LONDON British businesses denied a chance to trumpet their role in the 2012 Olympics because of strict sponsorship rules have been cleared to promote their involvement in the Games.
Firms which helped design and build the Olympic Park in east London had complained that tight regulations to protect big-spending sponsors kept them out of the spotlight.
The companies can now be formally recognised as Games suppliers, allowing them to use the Olympics as a calling card to secure work on stadiums and facilities for big sporting events overseas in countries like Brazil, Russia and Qatar.
Brazil is slated to host soccer's World Cup next year and the summer Olympics in 2016. Russia is hosting the World Cup in 2018 followed by Qatar in 2022.
An agreement has been reached between the government, the British Olympic Association (BOA) and International Olympic Committee to set up a licensing scheme to recognise suppliers.
This is the first time that such a scheme has been created after any Olympics. The BOA will operate the scheme with 2 million pounds of government funding.
"This should be a catalyst in creating new business opportunities and further growth for these companies, and that is an important economic legacy of the Games," said BOA chairman Sebastian Coe.
Licensed suppliers will be free to promote their Olympic role at trade fairs and when pitching for international contracts.
Britain's Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) applauded the move and said licences now needed to be issued promptly to help suppliers to catch what remains of the Olympic glow.
"This is welcome. Ideally we would have liked it sooner," said Matthew Jaffa, London spokesman for the FSB.
The Olympics are funded by public money from taxpayers in the host nation plus contributions from sponsorship and broadcast deals.
The IOC has 11 major global sponsors which sign long-term contracts. In addition, London organisers managed to sign up more than 40 local sponsors who contributed around 700 million pounds to the cost of staging the Games.
(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by David Cowell)
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