TOKYO—While the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Bridgestone Corp. said it is in support of the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee and Japan's joint decision to do so, and will look to help athletes "Chase the Dream" in 2021.
"We believe this is the right decision to protect public health and the well-being of global athletes who have sacrificed so much to chase their dreams," Bridgestone said in a statement. "Our commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic Movements does not change with this announcement, and we look forward to helping these games unite the world in a celebration of sport and the human spirit after this difficult time."
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have not yet been rescheduled.
A Bridgestone spokesperson said 2021 dates could come in the "next couple months," however even that is an estimate as the coronavirus spreads uncertainty across the world.
The spokesperson said it is not quantifiable at this point as to how much Bridgestone and its top tier sponsorships for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games could be impacted, nor what the Japanese tire maker could stand to lose financially with the postponement.
"We will continue working collaboratively with the IOC, IPC, games organizers and our various partners to determine the best path forward, and adjust our plans accordingly as more details around the new countdown to Tokyo 2020 become available," according to Bridgestone.
Already a Worldwide Olympic Partner through 2024, Bridgestone has global rights to promote and support the Paralympic initiative over the same period, according to Bridgestone.
As such, Bridgestone will receive exclusivity in its Olympic branding for marketing tires, tire services and selected automotive vehicle services, self-propelled bicycles, seismic isolation bearings and a variety of building and industrial products.
Bridgestone's activities in many markets—including the U.S, Canada and Latin America—include partnerships with athlete ambassadors (75 athletes alone for the U.S. team), hospitality programs during the games to host customers and partners, and fan experience and community events in Tokyo.
Bridgestone will develop equipment for para-athletes, including new rubber soles for prosthetics and rubber grips for gloves, the company said. Through Bridgestone Cycle Co. Ltd. and Bridgestone Sports Co. Ltd., the company also will provide bicycles, sports equipment and technical support to para-cycling and wheelchair tennis athletes, according to Bridgestone.
"There are still many details that need to be decided regarding the new plan for Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020," Bridgestone said. "We will maintain regular contact with the IOC and games organizers in the coming weeks to get the latest updates as they work through this complex situation, and we will continue to work collaboratively with all of our partners to adjust our activities and identify creative solutions, as necessary."
Bridgestone is one of 14 official worldwide partners of the IOC and one of eight worldwide partners of the IPC.
"This puts us in the top tier of sponsorship for both organizations through multi-year contracts that grant us global marketing rights in association with the Olympic and Paralympic Games," said Keith Cawley, director of the Olympics, Paralympics and sports partnerships for Bridgestone. "We officially became a Worldwide Olympic Partner in 2014 and a Worldwide Paralympic Partner in 2018. Both of these global deals run through 2024, so they are long-term partnerships that extend across multiple Olympic and Paralympic Games, from here forward, that include Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024."
The Olympic Games were postponed in 1916, 1940 and 1944, all due to world wars. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach agreed to this year's postponement March 24. Opening ceremonies had been set for July 24 in Tokyo, which spent years preparing infrastructure for the global event.
"The IOC president and the prime minister of Japan have concluded that the games must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community," according to a joint statement from the IOC, IPC and Japan. "The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present."