Athletic Brands, IOC and WFSGI Share Olympic Solidarity Story

The Olympians of the Tokyo Summer Games have competed and returned to their home countries or training bases, but another remnant of goodwill has been revealed.

More than 500 people who competed in the Summer Games did so wearing uniforms that were provided by a program rooted in solidarity. The International Olympic Committee, the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry and some of the leading athletic brands teamed up to see to it that all athletes were equipped with avant-garde apparel through the National Olympic Committee Competition Uniform Support Program.

More than 500 athletes from more than 73 NOCs received free performance-driven clothing. Had they not been given those garments, those NOCs would not have been able to suit up their athletes to compete in the Summer Games. The brands that pitched in created uniforms that were representative of each athlete’s home country, using the colors and designs of their respective countries.

The brands that worked on the support program in Tokyo included Adidas, Arena, Asics, Descente, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, Orbea, Pentland brands, Speedo, Puma and Under Armour. Allyson Ponson, a swimmer from Aruba; Robyn Young, a swimmer from Eswatini, and Malia Paseka, a taekwondo competitor from Tonga, were among the beneficiaries. Athletes from Albania and Pakistan have also used the program.

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The expenses tied to training, coaches, equipment and travel can be costly and vary from sport to sport. Nearly a decade ago, Forbes pegged the annual tally for archers at $25,000 and table tennis athletes at more than $20,000. The costs of the Summer Games in Tokyo were estimated at $15.4 billion.

While the expenditures were high, the viewership for the Summer Olympics dropped to an all-time low. With the 17-day sports extravaganza officially over, NBC said Monday that its average prime time viewers were 15.5 million. That was the lowest since the network started broadcasting the Summer Games in 1988 in Seoul. Reasons given by observers for the low viewership figures included the lack of a live audience at the Games; the 13-hour time difference between New York and Tokyo, meaning many events were taking place live in the middle of the night, and the increasing shift to streaming services by TV audiences over network television.

The U.S. team left Tokyo with the most medals — 113 — with China finishing with 88 and Japan following with 58. Tokyo was not the first time that Olympians had benefited from the support program. More than 1,000 athletes from 94 NOCs have received a helping hand at the Rio Games in 2016, the Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018 and most recently in Tokyo. Looking ahead to the Beijing Olympics in 2022, athletes will also benefit from the program there.

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