BOA in talks with prospective partners for Tokyo 2020

Team GB is in a strong position to secure new funding after leaving the Rio Olympics with a record number of medals

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The British Olympic Association (BOA) is in talks with three to four companies about securing commercial partnerships for Team GB in the run up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Bill Sweeney, CEO of the BOA, told students at a London Business School (LBS) event that in reality, partners tend to back more successful countries. Team GB won 67 medals at the 2016 games in Rio – its highest tally for the Olympics when competing outside Great Britain.  

“We have three to four negotiations going on at the moment, which we hope to convert,” Sweeney said at ‘Team GB Going for Gold: On and Off the Field of Play’. The event was chaired by Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at LBS. 

The BOA is one of only four associations, along with those in the US, Australia and Turkey, to receive no direct government funding. It relies on private investment to support its activities, which aim to give British athletes the best opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games.

Sweeney said that Team GB had generated more interest post-Rio than in the weeks leading up to the Olympics. However, he believes investors across all industries are biding their time following the Brexit vote and US elections. 

“People are understandably nervous about the political landscape and if you talk to businesses they’ll say the last four months have led to a false confidence. They also think inflation will go up next year,” he said. “They’re now concerned about the situation in America [after Donald Trump won the election] and trade deals.” 

In Rio, Sweeney and his management team met with Brazilian business people to discuss investing in Britain. He said that early estimates from UK Trade & Investment suggest that the games generated up to £800 million in revenue for the nation.