Sat, 03 May 1997

From: AFP

Asian Games organizers ink $12-million contracts

BANGKOK (AFP): The organizers of the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok signed sponsorship and licensing contracts worth US$12 million yesterday, putting two weeks of turmoil within the organizing committee behind them.

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp signed a $6 million sponsorship deal, while Football Thailand signed another agreement for the same amount covering merchandising and licensing for the 36- country games.

"We are delighted to welcome on board these two great Asian companies and are thrilled that they are showing their commitment to the future of Asian sports," said Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director Abdul Muttaleb Ahmed.

Yesterday's deals come after earlier agreements worth $25 million with South Korean electrical giant Samsung, brewers Carlsberg and Japan's Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.

Asian Games insiders said another two major sponsorship deals with Taiwan computer firm Acer Inc and Swiss Timing are expected in the next two months.

"In all we are confident of ... (having) confirmed sponsorship sales of $80 million of total revenues," Ahmed said.

News of the deals came after the restructuring of the Bangkok Asian Games Organizing Committee, after an OCA fact-finding mission in March which roundly criticized preparations for the 7,500-athlete competition.

The chairman of the Bangkok committee and deputy premier Sukavich Rangsitpol, responded by sacking his top official, Charuek Arirajkaran, on April 18.

Ahmed said the furor over Charuek's sacking would not affect the games.

"From the outside, the press coverage looks poor but we take it as a very positive sign that important changes are being made which will make these the best games of the century," he said.

The OCA has scheduled monthly checkups of the Bangkok committee's preparations by Ahmed and Chinese Olympic boss Wei Jizhong, with the next meeting to be on June 2.