Nike steps in as Reebok quits after Olympics row

Nike, the sportswear giant, is to replace its rival Reebok as sponsor of the Sydney Olympic Games next year.

Nike, the sportswear giant, is to replace its rival Reebok as

sponsor of the Sydney Olympic Games next year.



The move marks a radical departure for Nike in its marketing

strategy.



It has never before sponsored a major global sporting event, having

favoured backing individual sportsmen, specific teams and the use of

unofficial or ’guerrilla’ marketing.



Nike will use the sponsorship to supply a range of performance products

to competing athletes. Leading players in the sportswear sector,

including Nike’s main rival Adidas, are moving toward the production of

authentic, high-performance clothing and footwear in a bid to improve

their brand credibility as they suffer mass market saturation.



Nike said the deal with the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic

Games (SOCOG) and the Australian Olympic Committee cost ’several million

dollars’.



It becomes the Games’ official sports brand and will also sponsor and

provide kit for the Australian team for the 2000 and 2004 Olympic

Games.



Nike steps into the breach after Reebok, whose deal was worth pounds

3.9m, last week withdrew its sponsorship of the games and launched a

court battle against SOCOG, alleging that the organisers planned to

allow other sports companies to sell products during the Olympics.



Philip Knight, Nike’s chief executive officer, said: ’Nike has always

been proud of its Olympic athletes and teams. Our partnership with the

Australian Olympic Committee brings this relationship to the next

level.’



Richard Pound, chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

marketing commission, said: ’We’re delighted with the way Nike has

stepped in to increase its support to athletes.’



The IOC said negotiations began with Nike only after Reebok announced

its decision. The prospect of a legal case still hangs over SOCOG, and

it plans to fight Reebok over its withdrawal.



The deal with Nike is a welcome piece of news for the Olympic

movement.



Problems with Reebok followed a series of bribery scandals over the 2002

Winter Games in Salt Lake City.



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