TOKYO — Bridgestone Corp. is poised to continue its support of Olympic and Paralympic athletes as they prepare for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee, along with the nation of Japan and city of Tokyo, have agreed to hold the 2020 Olympic Games July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympic Games will follow Aug. 24 to Sept. 5, 2021.
The events, originally planned for this summer, were postponed in the wake of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Bridgestone is an official worldwide Olympic Games partner.
"We appreciate the IOC and Games organizers moving quickly to identify new dates following the decision to postpone Tokyo 2020," Bridgestone said.
"This is a very complex situation with many questions to answer, and securing a new schedule is a significant first step that helps provide some guidance and clarity for athletes, organizers, partners and fans.
Bridgestone said it will continue to work with the IOC, IPC, Games organizers and its various partners in the weeks ahead to find creative solutions.
"We look forward to helping the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 unite the world in a celebration of sport and the human spirit next summer," the Japanese tire maker said.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said recently that the new dates give health authorities — and all involved — the maximum time to "deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I want to thank the International Federations for their unanimous support and the Continental Associations of National Olympic Committees for the great partnership and their support in the consultation process over the last few days," Mr. Bach said.
"I would also like to thank the IOC Athletes' Commission, with whom we have been in constant contact. With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge.
"Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel."
IPC President Andrew Parsons said the new dates provide certainty for athletes, reassurance for stakeholders and a time frame that the whole world can look forward to.
"When the Paralympic Games do take place in Tokyo next year, they will be an extra-special display of humanity uniting as one, a global celebration of human resilience and a sensational showcase of sport," Mr. Parsons said.
"With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the priority for all those involved in the Paralympic Movement must be to focus on staying safe with their friends and family during this unprecedented and difficult time."
Bridgestone said it agreed with the decision to postpone the Games for the health of the public, athletes and organizers.
"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 company said.
A Bridgestone 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 with the year-plus-long delay. The spokesperson also did not comment what Bridgestone could stand to lose financially with the postponement.
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.
In this capacity, 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 ambassador athletes for Bridgestone's international roster, with seven ambassador athletes from the U.S.), 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 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.
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, senior communications manager for Olympics 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 Mr. 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.