IOS Sports and Entertainment, one of India’s oldest sports management agencies that will complete 17 years of operations next month is expecting to facilitate sponsorship deals worth Rs 100-120 crore for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Neerav Tomar, founder and MD of IOS Sports, who has clocked sponsorships worth over Rs 100 crore in the last five years for Olympic and other non-cricketing sports, said there was great interest from the big brands.
He told ET that it had taken some time for the sponsors to look beyond cricket, but now things have changed. “There is already huge interest when we are going in and pitching about the Commonwealth, Asian Games, and Olympics. We are confident of getting Rs 100-120 crore worth of sponsorship deals,” he said.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) are the only ones who work with IOS Sports.
For the Tokyo Olympics, IOA roped in 13 sponsors and partners—the Adani Group, Amul,
Group, , MPL-Sports Foundation, Herbalife, ‘s, Nippon Paint, JSW, and Sports For All—raking in over Rs 20 crore, marking a 40% increase over IOA’s total sponsorship deals in the Rio Olympic Games of 2016. All the deals were facilitated by IOS Sports.
While the number may look small in the overall sports sponsorship ecosystem, it’s a significant amount considering that it only includes Olympic sports.
“We are very happy to be a leader in the non-cricketing space.” “In cricket, there are more than 500 agents and companies who are doing a very good job. So, we don’t want to be another agency in that space. That’s the position we took a long time back,” said Tomar.
Tomar, who was a top-level squash player, founded IOS Sports and Entertainment in 2005 and signed Indian boxer Vijender Singh as the first talent. Today, the company is working with more than 60 athletes across 12 disciplines, including MC Mary Kom (Boxing), Manpreet Singh (Hockey), Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting), Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Hima Das (Athletics), Rani Rampal (Hockey) and recently signed badminton players Dhruv Kapila and Ishaan Bhatnagar. It also manages Paralympic medallists like Nishad Kumar (High Jump) and Manoj Sarkar (Badminton).
“When we started off, there was no market. The commercialization of cricketers started with Sachin in the late 90s, by the World Sports Group, but the talent management finally arrived for other athletes post-Tokyo, when finally people realised that there is a market and recognition for Olympians, even if they have not received a medal,” said Tomar. “Now, even potential medallists are getting deals, and thanks to technology and the rapid growth of social media and smartphones, the whole influencer side of business has grown so much, which was unimaginable in 2015.”
Tomar claims seven out of the 18 Olympic medals India has won since 2008 have been won by IOS athletes, including Vijender Singh, who won the first medal in boxing for India in 2008.
IOS Sports has managed to sign deals with top brands like Adidas, Nike, Tata, Puma,
, Pepsi and for its athletes.
Going forward, IOS Sports is planning to grow the event management side of its business, which includes boxing events under its subsidiary IOS Boxing.
The company had announced plans to host boxing events in India, the US, UK, and other markets. However, after the first event in Goa, the pandemic put the plans on hold.
“We plan to do regular boxing shows because that’s our expertise, which nobody else has, and we have a global network for it. It’s also a sport where there’s a lot of excitement and it can grow. We have plans to do regular fight nights, like a monthly show,” he said.