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Management Report

Management reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Maximizing Synergies of the Athens Olympics

Maximizing Synergies of the Athens Olympics

Aug. 14, 2004

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The 28th Summer Olympic Games, held from Aug 13 to 29 in Athens, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics, plays host to 16,500 athletes and staff representing 202 countries, and exceeds the prior record of 15,300 participants from 199 countries set by the 2000 Olympiad held in Sydney. Despite the unprecedented scale of the 2004 Games, budgeting is modest in keeping with Athens' motto to "resurrect the spirit of the Modern Olympics." Corporate sponsorship has been halved to tone-down conspicuous commercialism. About 60% of the venues are renovated pre-existing stadiums.

The Olympic Games is the world's largest international sporting event, as well as an opportunity for countries to showcase their world-class athletes before a global audience. It also focuses national efforts, mobilizing capital, technology, and ideas towards a common goal. This effect is especially apparent in the growth of the host's economy, often pushing it further up the ranks of advanced countries.

More recently, the games have been tied to mass media, evolving into a business unto itself. As early as 1985, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) began an exclusive worldwide sponsorship program called The Olympic Partners (TOP). Global companies face fierce competition, particularly in sports marketing, to win sponsorship opportunities provided by the IOC or partner with worldwide Olympic marketing.

The modern Olympiad is undeniably a global event, but unlike the 2002 World Cup, Korean society and businesses seem indifferent to the 2004 Olympic Games. Only a few large companies are pursuing international business opportunities arising from the games. Any remaining companies incorporating the games into their business strategies are merely targeting the domestic market. But Corporate Korea needs to do more in exploring Olympic marketing opportunities, especially since the 2008 Olympic Games will be held in Beijing where the market has enormous potential for growth. Korea must search for ways to capitalize systematically on opportunities, such as global marketing, that the Olympics provide.

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