Visa extends athlete sponsorship to 2021 after Olympic delay
Visa has told its global roster of Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls their sponsorships will be extended into 2021 after the Tokyo Games were postponed, providing some financial certainty amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The credit card giant's Team Visa scheme features 96 athletes across 27 sports, including multiple world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, women's football star Megan Rapinoe, gymnast Simone Biles - a quadruple gold medallist at the Rio de Janeiro Games - and two-time defending 800-metre Olympic champion David Rudisha.
The athletes were contacted last Friday to be given the option of extending their sponsorship terms with Visa. It is the first clear commitment by a major sponsor to extend such sponsorship support after the unprecedented delay to the Olympics by a year was announced last week by the IOC.
"We elected to stand behind our roster of Team Visa athletes and make sure they knew affirmatively we were planning to do so and that we were going to offer to extend our relationship with them into 2021," Chris Curtin, Visa's chief brand and innovation marketing officer, told The Associated Press.
"They're all dealing with how do they maintain their training schedules, discipline and focus at the same time they're dealing with what's happening with their families and their loved ones. One thing that we wanted to do as Visa was to take one potential point of ambiguity and maybe concern off their plates, because there should be none," he said.
While a spring date for the rescheduled Olympics had been suggested, the signs are now pointing to the IOC using the same slot in 2021 as planned this year when the Summer Games should have started on July 24 in Tokyo.