Pyeongchang 2018 President Cho Yang-ho, IOC Coordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg and Hyundai and Kia Motors President Jung Jin Haeng unveil the sponsorship ©Pyeongchang 2018

Hyundai and Kia Motors, South Korea's best known car manufacturer and the world's fourth largest, has been signed as a domestic sponsor for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, a major boost after initial concerns such a deal would not be possible. 

In March it was announced that Japanese rival Toyota had been signed as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) TOP (The Olympic Programme) sponsor from 2017 to 2024 in the newly-created mobility category, breaking a longstanding precedent of car sponsorship being a national deal signed by the relevant Organising Committee.

As companies who are rivals of TOP sponsors are not usually permitted to act as local supporters, this prompted concerns in South Korea that the likes of Hyundai would be excluded at a time when organisers were desperate to encourage any sponsorship opportunities.

The IOC insisted at the time, however, that this would not prevent Pyeongchang 2018 from signing up a local company and this has now been realised by today's announcement.

Hyundai Motor Group, who purchased a majority share in Kia Motors in 2013, will be a Tier One partner acting as "Official Automobile Supplier" during the Games.

They will provide 4,100 vehicles for VIPs, athletes transport and event operations as well as monetary sponsorship.

In return, they will receive use of the “Official Partner” designation, use of the Games Emblem in promotional activities, as well as enjoying showcasing rights on Olympic sites.

The deal was announced in a special ceremony at the Kensington Flora Hotel in the South Korean County this afternoon attending by Organising Committee chair Yang-ho Cho, Hyundai and Kia Motors President Jung Jin Haeng and IOC Pyeongchang 2018 Coordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg.

The deal is a major boost for Pyeongchang 2018 following concerns it would be feasible due to the IOC's partnership with Toyota ©Pyeongchang 2018
The deal is a major boost for Pyeongchang 2018 following concerns it would be feasible due to the IOC's partnership with Toyota ©Pyeongchang 2018

 “We deeply appreciate Hyundai and Kia Motors’ decision to join the sponsorship programme," said Cho.

"We are confident that this sponsorship agreement will encourage other Korean companies to join as sponsors and continued support from the Korean business community will help us deliver the successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

Hyundai already plays a high-profile role in the sports world through its support of the FIFA World Cup, along with other recent events in South Korea, including last year's Asian Games in the Incheon and the Summer Universiade which finished in Gwangju earlier this month. 

They become the eights domestic sponsor of the Games following deals announced earlier this year with two other South Korean giants, the Samsung Group and Korean Air.

Law firm BKL, telecommunications provider KT, Youngone Outdoor's North Face brand, Pagoda Education Group and Samil PricewaterhouseCoopers are the five other supporters so far, with it hoped more will be unveiled soon.

“It is our pleasure to contribute to the global festival of the Olympic Games," added Jung.

"We will give our full support to help make the 2018 Winter Games successful.”

There still remains some ambiguity, however, over what exact presence Toyota will have at the Games.

insidethegames was told in March that, while they will not provide any vehicles used during the Games, it is possible they could have some presence as part of their general deal with the IOC, with details still to be finalised. 

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