The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that top-tier Olympic partners will receive automatic global rights to the Paralympic Games from 2021.
The change, which came to light when the IOC published its host city contract for 2026, puts an end to separate rights negotiations with the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
Currently, five of the 13 The Olympic Partner (TOP) sponsors - Atos, Panasonic, Samsung, Toyota and Visa - also serve as worldwide Paralympic partners, together with Allianz and BP, which each has IPC-only deals.
From 2021, a new marketing plan will see the IOC combine and jointly manage international rights to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Seven current TOP sponsor deals - GE, Atos, Coca-Cola, Dow, P&G, Samsung and Visa – are due to expire at the end of 2020.
As part of the new process, the IPC will reportedly retain the option to sign Paralympic-specific partners in non-competitive categories. The global para-sport governing body is also expected to receive a significant increase in its IOC funding under the new deal.
The change comes amid a shift towards purpose-driven sport sponsorship in Western markets, with Paris and Los Angeles preparing stage the Games in coming years.
A north American or European host is also considered likely for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games as the bidding process gets underway following a string of high-profile failed public referendums and withdrawals.
In 2010, Sainsbury’s became the first brand to partner solely with the Paralympic Games when it joined London 2012’s domestic commercial programme. The supermarket has subsequently chosen to focus its sport sponsorship spend on para-sport.
BP also recently hit the headlines when the former United States Olympic Committee sponsor switched it US emphasis from Olympic to Paralympic sport, penning a deal to back six US Paralympic teams in 2017.
The IOC's move brings its TOP programme in line with most domestic Games marketing plans.
Details of the new Paralympic agreement are still being finalised, an IOC spokesperson confirmed, telling Sport Industry Group: “The IOC will be managing the rights as from January 2021, we are in the process of reviewing how to address Paralympic rights, including how this will be managed and implemented for the TOP Programme and for the OCOG domestic programmes.”
An IPC spokesperson added: “Under the terms of the new IOC/IPC agreement, from 2021, the IOC will be responsible for negotiating with the Marketing Partners to the Paralympic Games in a move that we believe will greatly benefit the IPC, Paralympic Movement and profile of the Paralympic Games.”