Team GB – Partnership, Opportunities and Sponsorship

Business Opportunities and Collaboration for Team GB in Japan

Earlier last month, members of the British Olympic Association arrived in Japan to sign Memorandums of Understanding with various Japanese Universities to host the members of Team GB and provide them with accommodation and training facilities in the run up to Tokyo 2020.

Tim Johnson, Head of Strategic Trade at the British Embassy in Japan, is actively working with his team to encourage cooperation between London and Tokyo, with London sharing knowledge and experience, having previously hosted the Games in 2012.

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“UK Trade and Investment is involved because of genuine interest and an interest in prosperity,” said Johnson. “Of course, we must acknowledge the exciting business opportunities for British businesses in this sector at the same time.”

In the spirit of this cooperation, two bilateral agreements have already been signed: the Olympic Cooperation Agreement between the host cities London and Tokyo, and an Olympic Security Agreement between the British Home Office and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

UKTI has also organised inward trade missions for delegations from the UK to Tokyo, and have already seen business wins and contracts signed.

“We are hopeful there is much more to come,” said Johnson.

British Chamber of Commerce in Japan Involvement

David Bickle, President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ), reiterated the Chamber’s dedication to the sustainable creation of business opportunities in Global Sports. These opportunities have been in three key areas: vendors selling to organisers, Corporate Social Responsibility opportunities, and through brand association. Their focus over the past year has been in providing a platform for companies to interact with key stakeholders, and this is set to continue.

Bill Sweeney, CEO of the British Olympic Association, took to the stage to present the progress of Team GB in the run up to Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

The British delegation was in Japan to sign Memorandums of Understanding with the city of Yokohama, the city of Kawasaki, and Keio University to provide training facilities for the athletes. This ensures Team GB will be ideally based in the Greater Tokyo area.

“It might seem a bit early, but we wanted to make sure we got good facilities,” said Sweeney. Preparation for Tokyo 2020 is clearly well underway.

About the British Olympic Association

The British Olympic Association distinguishes itself from Olympic associations in other countries in that it is not Government funded, although it does benefit from exchequer funding.

As such, it relies on support from the private sector, and therefore building brand identity and awareness are key aspects of its activities.

Each of the 205 national Olympic Committees is slightly different. The only countries with a similar structure to Great Britain are Turkey, Australia and the U.S., and so this group works closely together.

A Wake Up Call

The Atlanta 1996 Games were catastrophic for Great Britain, and this was the catalyst that kicked off investment into the elite athletes programme – an initiative that saw its first return with more medals and success at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Beijing 2008 was the start of Team GB being really successful, and London 2012 was their best performance ever, with 541 athletes taking part. Rio 2016 will showcase Team GB’s biggest away team – 351 athletes.

A Team that is Inspiring a Generation

One of the great knock-on effects of this investment and the success at London 2012 is that among 70% of youths, Team GB athletes have replaced music stars and footballers as role models. In addition, the Get Set programme was created to inspire people to live an active lifestyle and instill Olympic values at a grassroots level.

Team GB now enjoys having the most diverse sporting fanbase in the UK, and the Olympics is the most followed sporting event. Team GB has also established itself as the most unifying brand, and the most powerful sports brand in the UK.

Their brand values include responsibility, unity, pride, and respect, all under the collective umbrella of performance, and brand attributes are togetherness and inspiration – a winning formula. The brand’s strapline – Believe in Extraordinary – is instantly recognisable.

In establishing their partnerships and sponsorship deals, they strived to find the best fit within various sectors. The selection philosophy covered marketing partnerships, flexibility and a view to long-term partnerships.

Plans for the Future

Team GB’s plan for Rio 2016 is to show up as one united team, said Sweeney. A total of 1,300 people will come from the UK for that event.
In that time they will be creating digital marketing partnerships and finding the best ways to engage with their fanbase as well as continuing to build business values. Always looking ahead and keen to have the best preparation, the team is already thinking about the winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang, South Korea in 2018, and Beijing 2022 in addition to Tokyo 2020.

The road ahead promises to be a bright and successful one for Team GB and for British business who want to do business in Japan.


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For additional Tokyo 2020 related content, please check out our reports on Legacy of the Games and Global Sporting Events in Japan and our webinar videos on Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opportunities and Opportunities in Japan’s Global Sports Business.

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Article by Vanessa Holden, March 2016.

Photo Credit: JuliusKielaitis/