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Matsushita Renews Olympic Sponsorship
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed an agreement with Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd (MEI) yesterday in Beijing to renew its worldwide Olympic partnership through the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin and the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

The global agreement, which includes sponsorship of the 199 national Olympic committees, positions Matsushita as a worldwide official partner in the category of audio, TV and video equipment, as well as recording media related to audio and moving images, according to sources from the IOC.

Participating in the sixth generation of the Olympic Partner (TOP) program, Matsushita is the sixth partner to renew its Olympic agreement for the next Olympic marketing quadrennium after Coca-Cola, Kodak, John Hancock, Schlumberger Sema and Swatch.

The 2006 Turin and 2008 Beijing organizing committees will be sponsored by the Osaka-based Matsushita on audio-visual security systems and security card readers.

The IOC said last October that at least US$1 billion was ready for the Beijing Games and that it came mainly from two major sources: television rights sales and international sponsorships.

But IOC marketing director Michael Payne didn't reveal the current total of sponsorships, only saying that in the coming weeks at least two or three sponsors will commit themselves to the next two Games.

Payne, however, pointed out that Beijing's financial prospects seem much better than those of any previous Olympic Games hosts.

Chairman of Matsushita Yoichi Morishita promised to cooperate with the organizing committee to ensure the success of the 2008 Olympic Games through Matsushita's advanced digital technology.

Beijing mayor Liu Qi yesterday warmly welcomed global companies including Matsushita to take an active part in the various preparations for the Beijing 2008 Games.

"Preliminary progress has been achieved this year in the Games preparations, but we have to further learn from the experience of the rest of the world to deal with the work that is still ahead of us," said Liu.

Two regulations have been drafted on protecting Olympic symbols to create a preferential judicial environment for overseas enterprises joining the 2008 Games, according to Liu.

The TOP program was introduced for the 1986 Calgary Winter Olympics and 1988 Seoul Olympiad with the aim of providing financial and technical support for the staging of the Games.

Headed by Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the 2008 Olympics, a 23-strong team will begin a four-day working visit in Beijing today and hold discussions with the organizing committee of the 2008 Games in seven areas, including project construction, marketing, sports and the environment.

(China Daily August 7, 2002)

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