Supporting the Olympic Movement for the longest period of time, Coca-Cola has been a sponsor since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam and has walked alongside the Olympic Games as it blossomed into a world-class sport event. In order to understand the source of their connection with the Olympic Games, athletes and sport in general, we interviewed Oliver Takahashi, Coca-Cola (Japan) Company's General Manager for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The interview took place in front of Coca-Cola's huge eye-catching showcase vending machine installed at the Gangneung Olympic Park, called the “Giant Vending Machine”. You put a big coin in the vending machine and you will get a special Coca-Cola can designed for the Winter Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018. The objective of this is to “approach young Koreans”, and indeed there were many smiling youngsters with the special can of Coca-Cola in their hands.
Coca-Cola has supported the Olympic Games since 1928. What does Coca-Cola value the most in continuing this long-standing sponsorship?
The role that beverages play in terms of supporting the athletes is enormous and always crucial. We wish to deliver the pleasures of sport to the general public through our refreshing Coca-Cola image and products. We have always proposed the notion that sport is both fun to do and fun to watch. The values and ideals of the IOC have a lot in common with what Coca-Cola wishes to communicate. That is the reason why we have provided support for the past 90 years.
What is the legacy Coca-Cola hopes will come out of the Winter Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018?
A legacy is something that you realise for the first time in 2030 or 2040 as you look back at Coca-Cola's business and understand that the company has achieved its status because of the various initiatives that were carried out over the years. It's important to have a long-term perspective. Right now we are pondering the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
What does Coca-Cola see as the value of sport?
Coca-Cola has been conducting the “Olympic Moves” programme on a continuous basis. Athletes involved in sport devote themselves to rigorous training, but people also play sport to share the fun of engaging in physical activities. There are different approaches to sport. Coca-Cola hopes to help expand the approaches through our brand. Hiking is a sport, and so is taking a walk. Even in a society with an ageing population and a declining birthrate, we hope to see people feel happy and fulfilled through sport.
What are your expectations for the Tokyo 2020 Games?
I would like to show the world Japan's outstanding qualities through the Games. There's no need to stick to world standards; I think we need to communicate Japan's uniqueness in a strong and clear way.
Oliver Takahashi told us that he “wants to think in terms of Japan 2020, not only Tokyo 2020”. The interview with Mr Takahashi renewed our motivation to get the entire nation of Japan involved and united to make the Tokyo 2020 Games a huge success.