POSTED: December 8th 2008
NewsUpdate

USOC cash talks ahead

Larry Probst: man with a mission / USOC
Larry Probst: man with a mission / USOC

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

COSTA MESA, CA: The US Olympic Committee appears to be edging towards a resolution of the financial wrangle clouding its relationship with the IOC – and thus impacting Chicago's bid to host the summer Games of 2016.

New USOC chairman Larry Probst had noted, ahead of Saturday's meeting of the board of directors, that he hopes to meet Dr Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, "in the near future."

No date has been agreed nor an agenda. But a significant number of National Olympic Committees and International Federations around the world have signalled concern over the USOC's share of revenue from television rights and global marketing.

These shares of the Olympic financial cake – 12.75pc of TV rights fees and 20pc of marketing revenue – are proving indigestible to enough IOC members to undermine Chicago's bid when the decisive vote falls in Copenhagen next October.

Even the momentum provided by the election of Barack Obama as next United States President may not be enough to help Chicago fend off competition from any one of rivals Madrid or Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo. A comment from USOC chief executive Jim Scherr that "no-one will say it does not have an impact on the vote," hinted at the growing awareness for a need to solve the problem sooner rather than later.

Global economic downturn

The challenge for the USOC, particularly in the wake of global economic downturn, is that the IOC deal represents its largest source of revenue – around $300m in 2005-2008 and a prospective $450m for 2009-2012. The importance of protecting the deal was underscored two months ago by the outgoing USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth.

That concern may be balanced, however, by the executive board's ability to approve a $142.6m budget for 2009 with an increase in direct funding to athletes. The overall budget for 2005-2008 was $560m and Scherr believes that ongoing TV and sponsorship deals mean it will be matched or even exceded in 2009-2012.

He added that an attritional cut in staffing of 10pc within the USOC would also help.

Other tasks include finding a new auto sponsor to replace General Motors, bringing to fruition the planned 24/7 Olympic television network and using online potential to engage a younger demographic.



Keywords · United States Olympic Committee · Larry Probst · Jim Scherr · Chicago 2016 · IOC


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