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Visa’s Tom Shepard Receives Osaka Award


Prestigious Award Caps a Lifetime of Work with Olympians Worldwide.

Mr. Thomas Shepard, executive vice president of International Merchant Partnerships and Sponsorship for Visa International, was awarded the prestigious Osaka Award for a career of service to Olympians in ceremonies last night at the Osaka Award Ceremony held in Osaka, Japan.

Established by the World Olympians Association in 2003, the Osaka Award was created as a token of appreciation to express their “heartfelt gratitude to those who, throughout their careers, support and assist Olympians.” The World Olympians Association unites thousands of Olympians from around the world and involves them in the promotion of the values and virtues that make up the Olympic Movement.

After the ceremony, Mr. Shepard said, “I am truly honored on behalf of Visa to receive this award. Working with Olympians, the most dedicated and inspirational athletes in the world, has been one of the most personally rewarding experiences in my business career. I can’t think of a greater privilege than to be singled out by the Olympians for my work with them.”

Previous Osaka Award winners include IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli, IOC member and legendary Polish athlete Irena Szewinska, as well as Peter Tallberg, five time Olympian, IOC member and now honorary member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. The complete list of awardees can be seen at

As executive vice president of International Merchant Partnerships and Sponsorship for Visa International, Shepard develops global sponsorship strategies for both sport and special event sponsorships, such as the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the Walt Disney Company, FIFA and Rugby’s World Cup, providing a consistent and integrated brand message worldwide. In this capacity he has created legacy programs to increase visibility at these events, including the creation of the Visa Reunion Center, to host Olympians from past Olympic Games.

Over the years, Shepard has pioneered the business of partnership marketing across a range of industries via relationship management, savvy negotiating skills, and marketing expertise to secure long term brand and financial success for Visa and its stakeholders. He has created a key Visa business unit to respond to globalization of merchants such as those on the internet, hotels, airlines, restaurants, and multi-regional retailers, resulting in mutually beneficial marketing and product solutions. This has earned Visa, and Shepard, a global reputation for creating highly successful marketing models.

Corporate commitments such as Visa’s to the Olympic Movement, National Olympic Committees and national teams have been an important factor in ensuring the continuance and success of the Olympic Games. Since 1986, Visa’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games has provided more than US$120 million in direct support to Olympic athletes through their Olympic organizations. Visa supports Olympic athletes through the lifecycle of their careers: before the Games through its Team Visa and Gold Medal Athlete programs; during the Games at the Visa Olympians Reunion Center; and after the Games through its partnership with the World Olympians Association. In a number of countries, Visa sponsors both national teams and individual athletes with the potential to be selected to their national teams.


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