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Airbnb to offer interactive experiences with Olympians ahead of Tokyo Games

Kyodo

Airbnb said Tuesday it will offer experiences that provide direct interactions with former and current Olympians ahead of the Tokyo Games next summer.

The initiative, a partnership between the Japanese unit of the world’s largest short-term lodging service and the International Olympic Committee, would allow Airbnb users to meet, train or visit places with Olympians while providing the athletes with new sources of income.

“Wouldn’t it be a dream if you could ask professional athletes how they train or go on a diet or prepare for a big event mentally? Our platform will help share the expertise of the athletes with the general public,” said Yasuyuki Tanabe, chief of Airbnb’s domestic unit, at a news conference in Tokyo.

“This platform will provide direct revenues to the athletes and underlines the IOC’s efforts to support athletes,” said Brett Hasell, head of the IOC’s partnership management.

Three-time Olympic wrestling gold medalist Saori Yoshida, who retired in January, also touted the project, noting that some athletes are worried about how to build their second career after retirement.

“I hope this will be a chance for people to discover a new sport,” Yoshida said, adding she would, for example, like to be taught figure skating by Olympic medalist Mao Asada.

Airbnb Inc. and the IOC announced Monday that they have signed a nine-year sponsorship agreement covering five Olympics, including summer and winter editions, through 2028.

The private lodging operator, which joins 13 IOC partners including Toyota Motor Corp. and Panasonic Corp., said it will try to prepare various accommodation options during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games to meet needs such as those for spacious rooms that are suitable for big families and wheelchair users.

The IOC said Airbnb would help reduce accommodation costs for Olympics organizers and stakeholders, minimizing the need for newly built lodging facilities in host cities and generating direct revenues for local hosts and communities.