The association between General Electrics (GE) and the Olympic movement is certainly an interesting one. The company may be better known for making engines for jet planes or its work in the consumer credit market, but it’s also a big player in healthcare technology – so will be providing MRI and electronic medical kit to help doctors treat athletes – along with infrastructure solutions, so is responsible for providing power, light and water treatment services to various venues in Tokyo.
- General Electric
- Employees 174,000
- Annual sales $80 billion
- Founded 1892 – by Thomas Edison
Back in 2018, GE embarked on a major restructuring. Shareholders had clearly fallen out of love with the debt-laden company’s complex portfolio of operations. Its BioPharma arm was snapped up by another US conglomerate Danaher for $21billion back in 2019, but a plan to dispose of the medical imaging division was shelved. That ultimately proved to be a smart move as the company entered the COVID pandemic with solid cash reserves, where its ventilators, ultrasound machines and x-ray technologies have all been in high demand.
GE launched its Olympic partnership back in 2005 but there’s no definitive news as to whether the company will continue to provide support at this level after the current arrangement expires this year. Certainly that planned restructuring back in 2018 – along with a need to conserve cash – saw a flurry of news articles suggesting that it may be the end of an admittedly short era.
The Olympic movement is very much focused on leaving a lasting legacy and that’s certainly something GE has succeeded in doing. After the Sochi winter Olympics, the company provided a mobile mammography unit for the Krasnodar region which surrounds the host city. With notably high levels of breast cancer, this kind of altruistic initiative perhaps best personifies the Olympic spirit and goes well beyond the commercial benefit GE will have seen from its association with the games over the last decade and a half.