September 29 -  Britain's 1,200 Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be sponsored by Visa in a deal that London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe has branded as "a ground-breaking moment for British sport".

Visa will become the presenting partner of Team 2012, a joint project involving UK Sport, the British Olympic Association (BOA), the British Paralympic Association (BPA) and the organising committee of the London Olympics, in the build up to the Games in three years time.

Coe said: "Today's launch of Team 2012 is a ground-breaking moment for British sport.

"We are delighted to have Visa as the presenting partner and driving force behind Team 2012."

Although there has been resistance from some athletes' agents over image rights, including those representing Sir Chris Hoy, Rebecca Adlington and Christine Ohuruogu, a deal was agreed after UK Sport guaranteed no fewer than four athletes from a minimum of three sports will be used in any images to promote Team 2012 or their sponsor, with no unwarranted prominence given to any athlete.

Contractual issues have now been resolved, and the majority of elite athletes have either signed up already, or are set to do so imminently, enabling Visa to strike the deal.

The brand will have access to British athletes for promotions under the banner "Team 2012 presented by Visa".

UK Sport is also keen to sign-up further, lower-level Team 2012 sponsors.


Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "This is a terrific vote of confidence by the business community in the work being done to give our medal hopefuls the best chance of striking gold in 2012.

"It is fantastic that Visa has stepped forward, and I am confident that this extra funding - building on the unprecedented levels of public funding for our athletes - will help our Olympic and Paralympic teams deliver even more medals in London."

The money from the multi-million pound deal will go towards helping fill a £50 million funding deficit for Olympic and Paralympic sports and will help sports governing bodies to provide training and competition support for athletes.

Peter Ayliff, the the President of Visa Europe, said: "As a worldwide partner of the Olympic Games since 1986, Visa is proud to have created such a prolific partnership with Team 2012.

"It will embody British pride, courage, effort and achievement and provides a unique opportunity for the country to get behind the UK's best athletes and help them compete and win more medals than ever before."

Ben Ainslie, a three-times Olympic gold medallist sailor, said: "I am very pleased to support Team 2012, in particular its ambition to raise funds for athletes across all the Olympic and Paralympic sports not just in the build up to London but beyond 2012 as well.

"It is vital that we maximise not just our nation's medal opportunities at the Games but also the legacy that can be left in terms of the potential of future generations.