December 15, 2008 / 8:57 PM / 9 years ago

Economy hasn't nipped 2010 sponsor deals yet

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Corporate sponsors for the 2010 Olympics, including General Motors Corp, remain up to date on their payments, despite the global economic turmoil, Canadian organizers said on Monday.

<p>Members of the Canadian long track speed skating team train on the new Richmond Oval in Richmond, British Columbia October 21, 2008. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>

Managers of the Winter Games in Vancouver have secured more than 90 percent of the sponsorship deals included in the C$1.6 billion ($1.3 billion) operating budget, but most of the major agreements were signed before the economic crisis erupted.

Sponsors are telling organizers that support for the 2010 Games remains part of their marketing plans, even with the slowdown, Vancouver Organizing Committee Chief Financial Officer John McLaughlin said.

“We’d be naive to assume they are immune to (the economic downturn), and that some of them won’t face challenges. But so far we have had good success with them and have no reason to believe they won’t deliver on their requirements,” McLaughlin told reporters on Monday.

VANOC signs sponsorship agreements with domestic companies, while the International Olympic Committee deals with international sponsors.

The organizing committee said last week it was updating its spending plans to reflect the slowing economy, with a revised operating budget expected to be released in January. Most venue construction is paid for by Canadian taxpayers.

VANOC released its financial report on Monday for its fiscal year ended October 31, showing it was still on budget and on schedule for venue construction.

The revised budget may increase the amount of contingency funds VANOC has set aside in case of last-minute cost increases or the sudden failure of a sponsorship deal.

Among the key sponsors is struggling automaker General Motors, which has promised to supply hundreds of vehicles for use during the Games in February 2010.

“Our expectation is that we will receive all of those vehicles from General Motors. They continue to tell us that they will deliver them. If something happens and circumstances change we will deal with them at the time,” said David Cobb, VANOC’s executive vice-president.

International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge said last week the IOC can weather the global financial crisis but acknowledged it will have to be flexible.

IOC made a $71.6 million payment to VANOC last month that had been scheduled for March, a change the Vancouver organizers said would help them avoid some planned borrowing.

“They were being good partners,” McLaughlin said.

VANOC executives said they are still committed to meeting their pledge to complete the Games without a deficit.

($1=$1.24 Canadian)

Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson

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