2 potential big sponsors say nyet to Sochi Games

Posted April 05, 2011, at 5:59 p.m.

LONDON — Organizers of the 2014 Sochi Olympics lost out on two potential major sponsorship deals — with diamond and gas companies — but still expect to raise another $200 million in commercial contracts to boost their record revenues.

Russian diamond giant Alrosa recently backed out of a deal with the Olympics worth at least $100 million in order to pursue a sponsorship with organizers of the 2018 World Cup, Sochi organizing committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko said Tuesday.

Chernyshenko said a potential lucrative deal with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom also fell through, with the company deciding to sponsor the Russian Olympic team instead.

Sochi has already raised $1.1 billion in sponsorship revenue, a Winter Games record. Chernyshenko said more deals are possible that could be worth $200 million.

“Some are in the pipeline already,” he said, citing possible deals in the metal, chemical and beer industries.

Chernyshenko said the sponsorship market had become “more challenging” for Olympic organizers because Russia has won the right to host other major events, including the World Cup and a Formula One race scheduled for Sochi in 2014.

“Russia has become the hot spot for global sports events, and it’s more and more difficult to be the only one attracting sponsors,” he said.

Chernyshenko said Sochi also expects to raise $40 million in licensing revenues, with the bulk coming from sales of the games’ mascots approved last month — a snow leopard, polar bear and rabbit. The mascots should go on sale in September, he said.

Chernyshenko is attending the SportAccord convention in London, where he will deliver a progress report on Olympic preparations to the IOC executive board.

He said Sochi, a Black Sea resort building virtually all of its Olympic venues from scratch, is firmly on track to complete the project on time and on budget.

Sochi will mark the 1,000-day countdown to the Olympics on May 14 with the launch of its volunteer program, a big challenge in a country with little tradition of volunteerism. Chernyshenko said 26 centers will open around Russia to recruit volunteers.

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