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Toyota inks deal with ESPN for Asia X Games sponsorship

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MUMBAI: Toyota has inked a deal with ESPN Star Sports for sponsoring the Asian X Games Qualifier and the ESPN Junior X Games in 2003 and 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, along with the Asian Xtour.

The two-year sponsorship agreement will have Toyota enjoying regional association with the Asian X Games Qualifier and ESPN Junior X Games through a combination of multi-level integrated benefits. This includes on ground and on-air entitlements around the event as well as marketing and on-line benefits. Toyota's renewal also extends to its presenting sponsorship of the Xtour, a series of pre-qualifiers organized to select competitors for the Asian X Games Qualifier. The Tour is the only avenue for entry into the regional competition for the respective host nation's athletes.

ESPN will televise the Asian event to more than 140 countries and territories around the globe from March 10 onwards.

The Asian X Games Qualifier, the multi-sport competition for action sports in Asia, was first held in 1998. Between 1998 and 2000 it took place on Phuket Island, Thailand. The move from Thailand to Malaysia is part of the X Games tradition of holding the event at a new location every few years. This transition brings the X franchise to new markets around the region, developing the sport and the athletes across Asia. The recently concluded Asian X Games Qualifier IV and ESPN Junior X Games III presented by Toyota was the inaugural Kuala Lumpur event and will run through to 2004.

Showcasing nearly 300 of Asia-Pacific's best action sport athletes the event served as a qualifier to the summer X Games VIII to be held in Philadelphia in August, the pinnacle of global action sports competition. Athletes competed in aggressive in-line skating, bicycle stunt, skateboarding, sport climbing and wakeboarding. The Junior event, inaugurated in 1999, brought together 70 children aged 14 years and under in the spirit of fun competition modelled after the senior Games.

The success of the inaugural games in Kuala Lumpur demonstrated the popularity of action sports. The event attracted athletes from more countries than ever before and saw over 90,000 visitors over its 6-day run. This is expected to rise again in 2003 and 2004.

The Asian X Games Qualifier will see the addition of one of the most popular events next year within the Summer X event - the Moto X. Although not a competitive category, it will be the first step in its inevitable inclusion into the Asian X Games Qualifers.

Announcing the continuation of the sponsorship agreement, ESS Managing Director Rik Dovey said: "We're excited to see the continuation of Toyota's support for the Asian X Games Qualifier presented by Toyota for the next two years, and of the Asian Xtour presented by Toyota. Their already strong involvement with action sports through sponsorship of the event this past 3 years makes this a fitting extension to a long and healthy partnership".

Mr Dovey added: "The popularity of action sports is now at an all-time high and the Asian X Games Qualifier has quickly established itself as the ultimate goal for Asia's action athletes. Sponsors have been quick to see the benefit of associating with the event, and we are thrilled to be able to provide them with a way to leverage its potential. Whether they are looking at an on-ground sponsorship or advertising on-air, they understand the power of the X Games in capturing the imagination of both males and females, not only between the ages of 14 years and 35 years, but of all ages."

Explaining the importance of the partnership to Toyota, Katsuyoshi Tabata, General Manager of the Overseas Marketing Division, in Toyota Motor Corporation said, "Toyota is excited to announce its continued support for the Asian X Games Qualifier, ESPN Junior X Games and Asian Xtour. Together these three events provide Asian action sports athletes and spectators alike with the ultimate opportunity to enjoy top level competition for their chosen sports. Providing such opportunities to athletes and communities around Asia where the Toyota brand is so loyally supported is at the core of our corporate strategy; one of commitment to communities globally demonstrated through our support of action sports events, cultural and musical events or the launch of our new Formula One team.

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