Visa was announced this morning as the multi-million pound “presenting partner” of the Team 2012 scheme to raise funds to prepare Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic squads for the London Games.
The financial services giant has been a worldwide partner of every summer and winter Olympics since 1988. Visa’s endorsement of Team 2012 was characterised today by sources in London as “getting the project a long way towards our target”, although officials declined to put a value on the sponsorship. Estimates suggest it may be worth around Â£8 million.
It also emerged that Team 2012’s fund-raising target had been halved, to Â£25 million to “make it more realistic in the current economic climate”, according to the source.
This morning’s official announcement stated: “The sponsorship deal, which runs through to 2012, is transformational for the partnership, ensuring Team 2012 is able to deliver on its ambition of providing extra funding for World Class Performance Programmes through a vital â€˜third streamâ€™ of private sector income, which will sit alongside existing National Lottery and Government funding, for our most promising athletes”.
Today’s Team 2012 launch was made possible after the bodies running the scheme – UK Sport, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association and LOCOG – reached agreement over image rights with Britain’s 1,200 publicly funded athletes, promising that no fewer than four individuals – from a minimum of three sports – will be used in any images to promote Team 2012 or its sponsors.
Olympic gold medallists including swimmer Rebecca Adlington (pictured right at an SJA lunch earlier this year), cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and athlete Christine Ohuruogu, having previously expressed opposition, are all expected to support Team 2012.
The announcement makes it very likely that Visa will become the only credit card that will be accepted for Olympic ticket sales. Journalists booking facilities for the 2012 Games may also find that payments will need to be made using a Visa card.
Today’s launch at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford was due to be attended by competitors from all 47 Olympic and Paralympic sports and disciplines, together with sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe and the heads of the BOA, BPA, LOCOG and UK Sport.
Also announced this morning was a public fund-raising scheme – redolent of previous British Olympic “tin-rattling” appeals in the pre-Lottery era, when it was the BOA that was solely responsible for paying for teams going to the Games.
Team 2012’s fund-raising target has been halved since it was announced earlier this year as a means of plugging a Â£50 million hole in the preparations budget for the London Olympics.
In 2006, the then Chancellor Gordon Brown pledged Â£300 million in funding for Olympic preparations, with Â£200 million from the exchequer and UK Sport charged to raise a further Â£100 million from the private sector. Although a commercial sports agency was given the task of raising cash, by last December – when UK Sport was announcing its spending plans through to the 2012 Games – not a penny of sponsorship cash had been raised, and the government stepped in with an additional Â£50 million cash.
Peter Ayliffe, President and Chief Executive Officer of Visa Europe commented: â€œAs a worldwide partner of the Olympic Games since 1986, Visa is proud to have created such a prolific partnership with Team 2012. It will embody British pride, courage, effort and achievement and provides a unique opportunity for the country to get behind the UKâ€™s best athletes and help them compete and win more medals than ever before.
“The athletesâ€™ race for success doesnâ€™t begin at the starting line, it has already begun, and Visa plans to support them every step of the way through Team 2012.â€
The minister for sport said: â€œThis is a terrific vote of confidence by the business community in the work being done to give our medal hopefuls the best chance of striking gold in 2012. It is fantastic that Visa has stepped forward, and I am confident that this extra funding – building on the unprecedented levels of public funding for our athletes – will help our Olympic and Paralympic teams deliver even more medals in London.â€
Among those Olympic competitors present was Ben Ainslie, Britain’s most successful sailor with three gold medals. The America’s Cup skipper stressed that Team 2012’s reach extended well beyond the London Games. “It is vital that we maximise not just our nation’s medal opportunities at the Games but also the legacy that can be left in terms of the potential of future generations,” Ainslie said.
Notes to editors
While a small amount of Team 2012 funds will be allocated to programmes run by the BOA and BPA, the programme is primarily aimed at supporting UK Sportâ€™s World Class Performance Programme. It allocates funds to National Governing Bodies, who in turn use it to support athletesâ€™ training and competition needs.
Funding raised by Team 2012 for the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) will be allocated alongside existing Lottery and Exchequer income to sports, based on UK Sportâ€™s successful â€˜no compromiseâ€™ investment strategy. It seeks to ensure that all sports and athletes with the potential to compete and win on the world stage are properly resourced in the four years leading up to a Games, whilst recognising that in some sports individual athletes still need to find additional sponsorship to achieve their goals. In particular the WCPP funds:
â€¢ World class coaching
â€¢ Sports science and medicine and other technical support, including research and innovation
â€¢ International competition and training schedules and travel
â€¢ Athlete development programmes, including personal awards to allow athletes to train full time.
In addition to Visaâ€™s support as Presenting Partner, in the build up to London Team 2012 will actively be seeking further sponsorship from Olympic and Paralympic partners, as well as introducing opportunities for small and medium sized firms, individual and corporate donors and eventually the general public to get behind the programme.
For further information please contact:
For UK Sport, Calum Gillies, Communications Manager: 07748 111 331/020 7211 5106
For BOA, Miriam Wilkens, Head of Communications: 07768 775 762/020 8871 2677
For BPA, Tash Carpenter, Press Officer: 07766 991152
For LOCOG, Julie Burley, Press Officer: 07827 240938 / 0203 2012 432
For Visa, email@example.com (020 3003 6395) or firstname.lastname@example.org (020 3003 6310) at freud communications
For more information on:
Team 2012: www.team-2012.com
UK Sport and the World Class Performance Programme: www.uksport.gov.uk
â–¡ UK Sport is the longest standing lead sponsor of the Sports Journalists’ Association, with a partnership that goes back more than a decade. Sky Bet is the SJA’s newest partner, the sponsorship being announced in October 2008.
Both partners support the SJA’s two prestigious annual awards events, including the presentation of a special UK Sport Award for excellence at the SJA’s Annual Sports Awards and the sports betting writer of the year at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards.
The SJA Annual Sports Awards are the longest established of their kind in the United Kingdom, having been first staged in 1949.