The 2021 Olympics was in full swing, and yet everywhere viewers look, they saw the phrase “Tokyo 2020.”
On the surface, that seemed strange. Sure, the Olympics were originally scheduled for 2020, but obviously they were held in 2021.
So why didn’t the organizers decide to change the year of the Olympic Games? Per usual, it boiled down to one simple thing: money.
A Tokyo organizing committee source told Yahoo Sports that production of “Tokyo 2020” merchandise had begun before the Games were postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, these products would be rendered useless if the organizers changed the name.
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.
As sports marketer Michael Lynch detailed, that intellectual property is “the primary asset” for the IOC, so any sort of change would have been unnecessary and costly.
“The primary asset the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee sells is its intellectual property and the corresponding brand equity associated with the marks, logos, designations, symbols, etc.,” Lynch told Yahoo Sports. “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.”
That explains why the IOC was quick to announce the name would remain “Tokyo 2020” regardless of when they were held. It confirmed the name would stay on March 24, 2020, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Considering the other losses the IOC and Olympics have dealt with because of fans not being able to be present at the Games, keeping the name was the prudent move. Nonetheless, while the logos and merchandise said 2020, many fans and Olympic enthusiasts (and SN) still referred to the Games as the 2021 Olympics.