POSTED: March 18th 2009

Oswald threat to USOC cash

Denis Oswald with Lord Sebastian Coe in Denver for Sportaccord / lake images
Denis Oswald with Lord Sebastian Coe in Denver for Sportaccord / lake images

LAURA WALDEN & KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

MIAMI: Olympic leaders could collapse the controversial revenue-sharing deal inked with the USOC if the Americans refuse to compromise on a reduced share of profits.

The open-end contract was signed in 1996 when Canadian IOC member Dick Pound was chairman of the IOC Marketing Commission. The agreement allocates to the USOC almost 13 per cent of the television rights and 20 per cent of global marketing proceeds. Michael Payne was then the IOC Marketing Director.

Growing resentment around the world prompted the IOC into commissioning a ‘troika’ negotiating team. This comprises Denis Oswald, IOC board member and representative of the Association of Summer Sports Federations, the marketing commission chair Gerhard Heiberg, and Mario Vazquez-Rana who is in charge of the association representing the national Olympic committees.

The IOC umbrella of funding should theoretically be shared out to help support all the international sports federations and the other 204 national Olympic committees.

However, given the large slice of the Olympic cake going to the USOC, a division of the residue means far smaller quotas than those organizations would receive on an equal-shares basis.


Oswald, as reported by the Associated Press, said: “We still feel it is not acceptable that the USOC can get as much as all the NOCs receive together . . . If there is no agreement, then we would possibly terminate the contract and completely renegotiate another one."

The United States has only two IOC members, Anita DeFrantz and James Easton, of a total 107. The others represent the various worldwide national Olympic committees and international sports federations.

Of these 107, IOC president Jacques Rogge withholds his right to vote for reasons of principle. Two members are linked to the Rio bid coming from Brazil, two from Japan with Tokyo while Spain has only one, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, son of the IOC honorary president.

So at the end of the day the first round of voting will start among 99 members since those directly concerned cannot vote until after their bid city falls. Obviously all 99 members come from countries directly disadvantaged by the revenue sharing deal.

Lobbying dilemma

One wonders how the Chicago 2016 bid team and the USOC leadership can effectively lobby votes from people whose countries – just about all of them already far less well-off – receive smaller quotas.

Another key question centres on the amount of money by which the IOC is asking the USOC to scale back. Is it worth compromising the Chicago bid from which potentially more money could be made? It could be a handful of millions or tens of millions plus all the incalculable costs of a long-term legal wrangle.

The atmosphere is growing increasingly bitter and next week’s meeting between the IOC and USOC during Sport Accord in Denver promises a further tense instalment in an already testy situation.

One begs the question whether the USOC really understands the depth of the negative consequences for the Chicago bid.

See also:

Keywords · USOC · IOC · Denis Oswald · Dick Pound · Olympic bid · Chicago 2016

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Laura Walden ()

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