When Miki Ando was chosen for the Olympics over Yukari Nakano there was a big fuss about whether the Japanese Skating Federation was pushing Ando because of all her commercial endorsements.
I never understood this, because why would the Japanese Skating Federation care whether it was Ando or Nakano who got rich?
A recent article in Spotlight in Skating explains the deal more clearly. First, apparently it was the Japanese Olympic Committee, not the Figure Skating Federation, who stood to gain.
"Many Japanese journalists suspect that Ando was chosen because the JOC has annointed her, along with Suguri and Arakawa, as "symbol athletes." The JOC controls the three skaters' image rights and receives payment when they appear in commercials. Ando is in high demand; she has appeared in commercials for eight companies this year and recently signed a long-term deal with Toyota.
"'Symbol athletes' receive one million yen (about $9000 in U.S. dollars) a year for their endorsements, but compaies pay the JOC far more. Japanese news outlets report that the JOC's profit between 2005 and 2008 is expected to reach 7.8 billion yen, a huge increase over then prior four years."
I wonder if these "image rights" contracts extend to the years after the skater turns pro?