POSTED: October 3rd 2009

Ebersol: Obama and Chicago victims of USOC politics with IOC

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: In a video interview on CNBC following the first round exit of Chicago in yesterday’s IOC vote for host city of the 2016 summer Games, NBC Sports & Olympics chairman, Dick Ebersol made the situation crystal clear.

The fallout of the Chicago Olympic bid seemed to come as a surprise to Americans - however the root of the problem had been simmering for some time. Proof of this was the voting pattern demonstrated on Friday.

An ongoing revenue sharing issue whereby the USOC receives from the IOC 12.75 pc of the domestic television rights fees and 20 pc of the domestic marketing income from the TOP sponsorship program has long had other national associations in the Olympic Movement calling foul.

However, throughout the campaign and despite warnings of its negative impact on the Chicago bid, the USOC never varied its position.  Now it is surely time to listen when the man behind the television rights deal with the IOC - to which the USOC is clinging - has spoken out. 

Ebersol said: “The big second story here other than Rio winning is Chicago going out on the first round I think that stunned everybody in the room from what I am told.

“Chicago had an exceptional bid and the President and the first lady both did a very good job here. I think what is going on here is New York in a five-city finale [for the 2012 Games] only got 19 votes. Here today Chicago only got 18.

“The IOC, which is heavily Eurocentric as just under half the voters are European, and are very, very disappointed in the relationship that they have with the United States Olympic Committee.

“They find it very hard to believe that the USOC takes almost 13% of all the US television money off the top and they take 20% sponsorship money. They don’t think with this era with the rest of the world paying rightful shares [for TV rights] which they weren’t doing 20 or 30 years ago. They’re the only country taking money off the top and the vast majority of the members around the world only get $15,000-a-year from all that money.

“That is what I think is at the root of a lot of the problem here today and what happened in Singapore four years ago at the 2012 vote. We’ve got to get it worked out between our US Olympic Committee and the other Olympic Committees of the world and the IOC or we won’t see another Olympic Games in the United States for a long, long time.”

In December of last year IOC president Jacques Rogge set up a troika working group comprised of IOC marketing commission chair  Gerhard Heiberg, Mario Vazquez-Rana on behalf of the national Olympic committees and Denis Oswald representing the international federations.

Their mission was to liaise with USOC leadership and work on negotiations for a more equalized revenue split.

At the beginning of March of this year acting USOC ceo Jim Scherr surprisingly handed in his resignation. This was critical timing for a NOC with an Olympics bid on the table. As the situation unfolded his position was taken over interim by then USOC board member, Stephanie Streeter, leaving much speculation that Scherr was the victim of coup for the administrative position.

On the heels of the change in guard later that month a deal was hammered out by the IOC troika with the USOC represented by chairman Larry Probst, acting chief executive Stephanie Streeter and first vice-president (international) Bob Ctvrtlik.

President Rogge delivered a joint statement from the IOC and USOC explaining that the Americans would increase their contribution to Games costs and that the two bodies would start negotiations in 2013 on a new contract to come into effect after the 2020 Games.

Given the outcome of yesterday’s vote it might not have been enough for the IOC members.

Next chapter in the Chicago bid fallout will come soon as Scherr has just agreed to take the stand at the upcoming TEAMS 2009 conference on Wednesday, October 14, in New Orleans.

Keywords · Dick Ebersol · NBC · IOC · USOC · Jacques Rogge · Jim Scherr · Larry Probst · Stephanie Streeter · Chicago 2016

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Laura Walden ()

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