This is Part 2 of a series on Toyota Motor Corp.'s strong connection with sports.
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It’s no coincidence that many of the top teams and athletes from the Nagoya area are part of the Toyota family. From figure skaters to soccer players, hailing from the home turf of Toyota Motor Corp. can really pay off.
Among the sports that Toyota is deeply involved in is figure skating, which has become immensely popular in Japan.
Miki Ando, who won the gold medal at the 2011 World Championships in the women’s event, and Takahiko Kozuka, who took silver in the men’s singles, are both members of Toyota’s figure skating club. Both skaters are getting financial support from the company and focusing full time on skating.
Toyota decided to support the sport because Aichi Prefecture, where the automaker is based, is “the figure skating capital of Japan.” Aichi has produced some of Japan’s top skaters, including Ando and Kozuka, who are both from Nagoya, as well as 2008 and 2010 world champion Mao Asada.
Judoka Ryoko Tani--who has two gold, two silver and a bronze in her Olympic medal collection -- also was under the Toyota umbrella when she competed.
“By supporting top athletes who make a difference in the world, we plan to strengthen the unifying force of our overseas businesses,” says Toshiyuki Nonaka, Toyota's head of human resources in charge of sports.
Last year’s J.League champions Nagoya Grampus, whose main sponsor is Toyota, competed in the AFC Champions League this season. When the team plays in Japan, it goes by the name “Nagoya” or “Grampus.” But overseas, the Toyota name--which is also on the players’ uniforms--has the strongest name recognition by far.
Other major companies based in the Chubu region--including Chubu Electric Power Co. and Central Japan Railway Co.--are also sponsors of Nagoya Grampus.
Toyota is the main sponsor, partly because the company was involved with the original soccer club that formed the foundation of Nagoya Grampus. The automaker provides about one-third of the team’s roughly 4.2 billion yen ($54.6 million) operating budget.
The Nagoya Grampus president is a former Toyota employee, and Toyota President Akio Toyoda is a board member of the team. As a main sponsor, the automaker has major influence over the team’s decisions on which players or managers to hire.
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