POSTED: October 11th 2009

Ueberroth opens up on Chicago, Rio, the Olympics . . . and the money

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: Peter Ueberroth is to speak out in an upcoming interview about why Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid crashed so dramatically and why Rio de Janeiro, instead, took the hosting gold medal.

In next Tuesday's television interview on The $ports Take with Sports Professor Rick Horrow the former USOC president talks with remarkable candour about the Chicago bid, the Olympic Movement, and the USOC-IOC revenue sharing deal - the factor which has been blamed by many for Chicago's embarrassment.

This interview is scheduled on the same day that Stephen Ducoff, president and ceo of the Association of Chief Executives for Sports (ACES), is set to discuss the vote of no-confidence on the leadership of the USOC at the TEAMS Conference & Expo in New Orleans. 

Former USOC ceo Jim Scherr will be speaking at the same conference to tackle his version of why the Chicago bid went bust. Roger Dow, president and ceo of the United States Travel Association will discuss President Barack Obama’s trip to Copenhagen to support the bid and issues relating to visa issues for some foreign tourists wishing to enter the US.

Ueberroth, in the wake of the Chicago disaster, seems to be softening his stance on the USOC revenue sharing deal with the IOC. He was one of the architects of the deal in the first place then stood up for it bullishly earlier this year.

Asked about his perception of the Chicago result, he says: "Rio won the bid. Let’s be very factual. Chicago put together a great bid and competed against the other cities in the United States to qualify. Their leadership was incredible. The mayor is one of the best, strongest, longest time serving and he did a great job.

"Rio had the advantage. They bid before and having lost before is usually an advantage. The second advantage is having the whole continent feeling discriminated against . . . Chicago went for it, all or nothing . . . Chicago did itself proud and they did a great job. It just wasn’t Chicago’s time but they made the United States proud with their efforts.”

TV network

Next up was the issue of the USOC creating its own Olympic TV network.

Ueberroth says: "I think the future of all Olympic movements in major countries is that they will have their own network, much like the Golf Channel. The reason is that they represent more than 40 sports which never get on the television screen.

"Even during the Olympic Games, you never see so many sports that the world plays. The Olympic movement and USOC need to help get people and kids off their butt playing sports and exposed to other sports because not everyone can play American baseball or football.”

Ueberroth then turns to the imbalance originally built in to the revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC because that US companies contribute more than half of the advert and broadcasting rights funding.

Asked if the USOC should have a say in the selection process, he responds: “Not the selection process. There are 200-plus countries and we should have no arrogance. We do pay for more than half of the television revenue, more than all of the rest of the world combined - in that sense you can say that’s not fair.

"Everyone should be trying to expand the buy, getting more companies from all around the world in the Games, expanding television and there will be enough to go around for everybody. Some people are focused on making the pie smaller and taking a bigger share from the United States. If that’s the goal then maybe that will happen, but it’s not my responsibility now.”

Would any other American city emerge as a front-runner for a 2020 Games bid?

“Chicago has established itself through its competition with its other friendly cities in the United States as No1. I can see no other city being able to compete with them but they may not want to bid at that time. Chicago is the best city in the world that has not had the Olympic Games. It should have it, and I hope one day I get to see that.”

The USOC is currently reaching out for a search firm to gather candidates for the ceo position that Stephanie Streeter will be leaving. Following a conference call of the USOC board yesterday and a confidence vote chairman Larry Probst remains firmly in lead position.

Keywords · USOC · Peter Ueberroth · IOC · Jim Scherr · Roger Dow · Stephen Ducoff · Teams 2009

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Laura Walden ()

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