Why is everyone calling 2021 Olympics Tokyo 2020?
You have certainly noticed: we are very much in 2021, but all Olympic marketing materials, ranging from TV ads to the insignia on medals are stamped with the “Tokyo 2020” logo.
Why? This is deliberate. Remember the Olympics were originally scheduled to be held in 2020, but was postponed to this year due to the pandemic. The International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the summer games for the first time in history. It then decided to retain the original branding.
So why are the Olympics still carrying the Tokyo 2020 name when they’re taking place in 2021? Apparently, when it comes to Olympics, replacing a “0” with a “1” is easier said than done.
According to Yahoo! Sports, organizers “agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
A source noted that there are many reasons, but the biggest is this: Tokyo 2020 merch, as well as many other items bearing the year, had already been printed.
“There are many reasons,” a Tokyo organizing committee source told Yahoo Sports. One of them, he said, was that “last year in March, torches, medals, other branding items, and merchandise were already being made using the name ‘Tokyo 2020’ and a name change would have meant additional costs.”
Olympic organizers were all set to sell merchandise of all kinds like t-shirts, flags, mascot stuffed animals, souvenirs etc backed by full-fledged marketing campaigns developed over multiple years.
“All that Olympic IP is branded 2020, including IOC and [organizing committee] creative, sponsor creative, advertising creative, promotional creative, licensed merchandise, tickets, on-site signage, events, you name it, all about to hit the market. It would be an enormous and unnecessary expense for all of this Olympic IP to be changed,” Michael Lynch, a veteran sports marketer explained.
Interestingly, since this came as the first postponement in Olympic history, though there were several cancellations during wartime, there was no precedent for how to handle the name.
Last year, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach during his call with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to delay the Games by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic after a lot of pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies and sports federations.