Marking one year since the start of their major global Olympic partnership, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Airbnb have been honoured with a prestigious Sport Industry Award.
The Deal of the Year Award recognises the innovative nature of the partnership, which has already seen the launch of hundreds of Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences on Airbnb’s platform, as well as a five-day virtual festival in July that helped share the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games with fans around the world, following the postponement of Tokyo 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The IOC and Airbnb partnership was selected as the winner following a stringent process which began with industry-wide nominations, followed by an exclusive and senior Steering Committee, who met to discuss the nominations and agree the shortlist and winner,” said Alex Coulson, Managing Director of the Sport Industry Group. “The Steering Committee and the judges praised the deal for its innovation and impressively disruptive approach to creating a new form of partnership that delivers and creates value for all involved.”
Now in their 19th year, the Sport Industry Awards are the largest commercial sports awards in the world that celebrate the behind-the-scenes work of the sports sector, honouring clubs, teams, brands, agencies and other innovators. The IOC and Airbnb are the inaugural winners of the Deal of the Year category.
Airbnb became a Worldwide Olympic Partner on 18 November 2019, beginning a nine-year, five-Games partnership designed to benefit host cities, Olympic spectators and athletes.
In line with Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future, and Airbnb’s mission to promote sustainable travel, the agreement supports the sustainability objectives of the Olympic Movement.
Aoife McArdle, Global Head of Oympics, Airbnb said: “This is not a sponsorship, it is a deeply mission-driven, integrated partnership focused on economic empowerment, sustainability, diversity and solidarity. This level of partnership and purpose is the direction we'll see more sponsorships go in the future.”
The agreement includes accommodation provisions that will reduce costs for Olympic Games organisers and stakeholders, minimise the need to build new accommodation infrastructure for the Olympic Games period, and generate direct revenue for local hosts and communities.
Through this partnership, there will also be a direct benefit for athletes over and above the USD 5 billion the IOC is distributing during this Olympiad for their benefit to Organising Committees and sports organisations around the world.
The launch of Airbnb Olympian and Paralympian Experiences, which have since been hosted online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has provided direct earning opportunities for athletes, underlining the IOC’s efforts to support athletes and put them at the heart of the Olympic Movement, while also bringing fans and athletes together like never before.
Christian Voigt, Vice-President of Marketing Development, IOC Television and Marketing Services, said: “The partnership with Airbnb has allowed us to bring our vision of 'Innovation through Collaboration' to life. From the very first moment, we not only connected in terms of brand, marketing, product and digital, but actually co-created an entirely new partnership concept around the Olympian Experiences.”
The IOC will also make at least USD 28 million worth of Airbnb accommodation available over the course of the partnership to athletes competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games for competition- and training-related travel.
In addition, Airbnb will support the IOC in continuing to address the challenges faced by refugees around the world. The IOC has a long-standing commitment to refugees, including cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since 1994, the creation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, and the creation of the Olympic Refuge Foundation in 2017. Airbnb has been supporting refugee initiatives since 2015 through its “Open Homes” programme, which connects generous hosts with those in need of temporary accommodation, including refugees. To date, more than 35,000 people have been housed in times of need. Over the course of the partnership, the IOC and Airbnb will establish further programmes to provide long-term support to refugees.