The XXXII Olympic Games are set for Tokyo, Japan, in the summer of 2020. For the second time in the modern era of the Olympiad, the island country is preparing to host the World’s best athletes. Organizers from the Country are quoted as these games will be: “the most innovative ever organized, and will rest on three fundamental principles to transform the world: striving for your personal best (achieving your personal best); accepting one another (unity in diversity); and, passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow).” While the build-up to the games will be highly publicized, the deals behind the scenes have caught the collective gaze of the sports business community.
In the lead-up to the games, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) looks to bolster their already star-studded Olympic athlete portfolio by grabbing some of the biggest names in the newly added sports of skateboarding and surfing. In an article for SBJ, Liz Mullen picks the brain of head of CAA’s Olympic division Lowel Taub and agent Lis Moss on the potential of these sports and the importance of Star Power. Regarding the potential of signing the top athletes of the newly added sports, CAA believes there is a ton of potential. “Both sports bring new energy, excitement and an edge that I think people of all ages, ethnicities and geographic locations will rally around.” In an industry that is driven by sponsorships, the agents of CAA are confident the “cool factor,” as well as, the excitement associated with newly added sports will bear fruitful partnerships spanning far past the closing ceremony. Maybe before long, we’ll see more sports added to the Olympics or even variants of the existing sports, say for instance the organizers and companies promoting and supporting the Olympics catch wind of the rising popularity of electric skateboard racing, they might start looking for some of the best electric skateboards UK and other countries have to offer as product promotions within the sport, allowing for growth in many other sporting industries.
Top-ranked skateboarder and one of the most recognizable faces in all of action sports, Nyjah Huston, will be crucial to garnering attention for the sport. Huston, who signed with CAA in 2012, made waves after being the youngest athlete to compete in the X-Games at 11 years old. Five years later, he won his first gold medal at X Games XVII. Action sports rely heavily on sponsorships. Athletes such as Huston, who has 2.6 million followers on Instagram, will use the exposure on the world stage to pitch their brands to the traditional sports world and let their performance attract the attention of additional brands like P&G or McDonalds.
However, the International Olympic Committee has put some assurances together to protect their sponsors. On social media, athletes may, according to the IOC Rule 40, engage in general advertising activities as long as the media does not contain any of the IOC’s IP (the Olympic rings, and terms such as “Olympics” “2020” “Tokyo,” “games” and “gold” are off limits). Another safeguard for official sponsors is the exclusion of non-official sponsor clothing and equipment from official Olympic activities. Meaning an athlete sponsored by Adidas would have to change into Nike attire during events such as press conferences or medal ceremonies. While Huston, a Nike athlete, will not be phased by the requirement, his fellow CAA skateboarders Tom Schaar and Jordyn Barratt are both Vans shoe and clothing athletes and would be put into an awkward juxtaposition having to change attire.
While the agents of CAA will be concerned with maximizing the earning potential of their clients, pockets within Skateboarding community are worried “Corporate Competitions” will lead to the end of smaller companies that shaped the persona of skateboarding.
Competition for skateboarding will be held at Aomi Urban Venue, in Tokyo and open to the public after the event. While surfing will be located at Shidashita Beach, or “Shida,” located about 40 miles outside of Tokyo in Chiba. With no guarantee these events will return in 2024, fans of skateboarding and surfing will be hopeful Taub and Moss’s forecasts are accurate.