Creation of
The Olympic Partner Programme

Creation of the TOP Programme. Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC President, Howard Stupp, IOC Legal Affairs, Horst Dassler, Adidas President and Ashwini Kumar, IOC Member (IND)

When Lord Killanin took over as IOC President in 1972, he noted immediately that the IOC’s financial situation was less than optimal.

Although television networks were paying increasingly favourable rights fees to televise the Games, those contracts through the 1970s were negotiated by the Organising Committees, which retained most of the money. In the 1970s, Killanin managed to negotiate the transfer of some of the money to the IOC.

When Juan Antonio Samaranch became IOC President in 1980, he realised the IOC had to improve its financial posture. In the early 1980s, Peter Ueberroth was serving as Chairman of the Los Angeles Organising Committee, and did something quite unlike previous chairmen. Instead of selling multiple sponsorships for the upcoming 1984 Games, he made sponsorships a precious item, limiting the number that could be sold, but demanding high fees for those rights. The Los Angeles Games were a financial success, and the surplus funded amateur sports in Los Angeles, California, and the United States for decades, as well as supporting the US Olympic Committee.

Samaranch and Richard Pound set out to correct the IOC finances in two ways. One was to bring the television negotiations under the aegis of the IOC, with the IOC then doling out a major portion of the rights fees to the Organising Committees, and the rest to the other constituents of the Olympic Movement – the National Olympic Committees and the International Federations.

Samaranch and Pound initiated an ambitious programme which would become known as The Olympic Programme (TOP), although the name later changed to The Olympic Partner programme, still TOP. In doing so, they used the principles that had made the Los Angeles Olympics so financially successful under Ueberroth.

TOP was designed to have a limited number of partners, usually only one corporate sponsor for any type of category – such as cars, computers, food, beverages, etc. – giving them exclusive rights to the Olympic symbol and to use it in advertising for the period of sponsorship.

TOP I started with the 1985-1988 quadrennium and generated USD 96 million for the IOC with only eight corporate sponsors, now always called TOP sponsors. From TOP II (1989-1992) to TOP IX (2017-2020), there have always been only 10 to 14 TOP sponsors in any Olympiad. TOP IX generated more than USD 2 billion, and several companies have now signed up through to TOP XII (2029-2032), with several of them paying more than USD 300 million each for the period.

The IOC does not keep most of this money. Rather, it redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the various arms of the Olympic Movement. The bulk of this goes to the Organising Committees, for both the Winter and Summer Games, so that they have the finances to be able to successfully manage the operating expenses of the Olympics. Most of the rest is distributed to the National Olympic Committees and International Federations, and goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.

More information

The IOC distributes 90% of its revenue to organisations throughout the Olympic Movement, in order to support the staging of the Olympic Games and to promote the worldwide development of sport. This means that every day the IOC distributes the equivalent of over USD 3.4 million to support athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.
Learn more
The Olympic Partner Programme
The Olympic Partners (TOP) programme is the highest level of Olympic sponsorship, granting category-exclusive marketing rights to the Summer, Winter and Youth Olympic Games to a select group of global partners.
Learn more

Evolution of the IOC


More about IOC history

back to top