By David Owen

Nike-LogoSeptember 12 - Nike is significantly stepping up its association with the Olympic Movement by taking over from Mizuno as official clothing supplier of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In its new role, the United States company will supply Nike garments to the most powerful club in world sport until the end of 2016 – a period including both the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Japan's Mizuno had been performing the function since 1995.

The move is likely to be interpreted as a further sign of improving relations between the United States and the IOC after the tensions of recent years, culminating with Chicago's humiliating first-round exit in the 2016 Games race, won by Rio.

There looks to be every chance of a US city winning the right to stage the Movement's flagship event in 2024 or 2028, for the first time since the much-criticised Atlanta Games of 1996.

Nike is already both a sponsor and an official outfitter of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

The Oregon-based company also provided competition and ceremony uniforms for the four London 2012 competitors from Netherlands Antilles and South Sudan who competed as independent Olympic athletes.

alexandra raisman_12-09-12Nike is already the official outfitter of the USOC, with the Swoosh seen here on London 2012 gymnastics gold medallist Alexandra Raisman

Nike declined to comment on the IOC deal, which is understood not to involve any financial payment.

However, Gerhard Heiberg, chairman of the IOC's Marketing Commission, said that while the IOC was very happy with Mizuno, after so many years it wanted to try another supplier, and so had got in touch with Nike.

Mizuno explained the decision not to renew the official supplier agreement in terms of Tokyo's present bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It said that the company had wanted to be an official partner of Tokyo's previous unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Games, but had been prevented by its status as official supplier to the IOC.

This time around, the group, which was founded in Osaka in 1906, decided to become a partner of Tokyo's 2020 bid once its agreement with the IOC had been dissolved.

Masato Mizuno_was_the_President_of_Mizuno_Corporation_for_23_years_until_he_stood_down_to_lead_Tokyos_bid_for_the_2020_Olympics_and_ParalympicsMasato Mizuno, Mizuno Corporation's President of 23 years, recently stood down to lead Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

This was done amicably on August 31, with the company unveiled as Tokyo 2020's fifth official bid partner a week later.

The change means that sport's most powerful administrators are likely to be seen and photographed on official occasions over the next four years sporting – no doubt tastefully discreet – Nike Swooshes.

Among the first such occasions, presumably, will be in March 2013, when Sir Craig Reedie leads the IOC's Evaluation Commission on its inspection of the Tokyo bid.

The Japanese capital is due, between March 4 and 7, to be the first of the three candidate cities to welcome Commission chairman Sir Craig and his team of inspectors.

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September 2012: Tokyo 2020 announce Mizuno as latest sponsor for Olympic bid