USOC, IOC reach deal that will pave the way for future Olympics in United States


President Jacques Rogge, back center, and the IOC executive board are expected to approve the revenue-sharing deal with the USOC at its meeting in Quebec City. (MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS)
May 23, 2012

The U.S. Olympic Committee is on the verge of ending a long and bitter financial dispute with the International Olympic Committee that will allow the United States to get back in the hunt to host future Olympic Games.

The USOC board of directors voted by conference call Wednesday evening to approve a new revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC that would take effect in 2020 and run through 2040, according to a person who was on the call but requested anonymity because of a lack of authorization to speak publicly.

The deal, if approved by the IOC’s executive board as expected during a meeting in Quebec City on Thursday morning, includes certain USOC givebacks but ensures the organization won’t get less money from the IOC unless sponsor and television revenues dramatically decrease, two officials said.

The contract would replace a 1996 deal that had been the subject of increasing acrimony. Many Olympic officials blame international resentment over the terms of the old agreement — perceived as overly favorable to the USOC — for the humiliating defeats of Chicago and New York in the recent international competitions to host the Summer Olympics.

The old contract guaranteed the USOC 20 percent of the IOC’s top sponsor revenues and 12.75 percent of its U.S. television revenue, significantly more than any other national governing body. The new agreement preserves those percentages until current revenue levels (for the period from 2009 to 2012), adjusted for inflation, are reached.

After that, the USOC would receive a lesser percentage of sponsor and television monies. The USOC also has agreed to pick up about $20 million in Games costs.

“The new deal will not result in a reduction of the USOC’s spending power,” one of the officials said.

The Associated Press first reported on the tentative agreement Tuesday night.

Approval would pave the way for the USOC to submit a candidate city for the 2022 Winter Games or the 2024 Summer Games. USOC leadership, which did not put forth a bid for the 2020 Games, had vowed not to bid again until the revenue matter was resolved.

Chicago’s defeat in the race for the 2016 Games was considered particularly humiliating because President Obama had traveled to Copenhagen, where the vote took place in 2009, to campaign personally.

A Winter Games has not been staged in the United States since Salt Lake City played host in 2002. Atlanta held the last Summer Games in the United States in 1996.

Reno-Tahoe, Nev.; Salt Lake City; and Denver have formally expressed interest in the 2022 Games. Dallas and Tulsa are interested in bidding for the 2024 Summer Games. Other cities, including Bozeman, Mont., have unofficially made known their interest.

A U.S. official said no determination has been made on which Games the USOC would seek.

USOC officials have “not even considered that issue or had discussions or even looked at that until this is done,” the official said.

Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, who helped negotiate the original revenue-sharing deal, played down the impact the deal had on New York’s and Chicago’s bids but suggested the United States might continue to face opposition in its bids to win Olympic Games.

“The danger right now, if they reach an agreement, is they may think the problem has gone away and America is back,” Pound said. “I don’t think they’re there yet.”

Pound noted that new cities continue to emerge in Olympic bidding. Rio de Janeiro, which will host the 2016 Summer Games, became the first South American city to win the Olympics. Doha, Qatar, and Baku, Azerbaijan, bid for the 2020 Games, though both were eliminated Wednesday. Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul remain in the hunt.

Those Games will be awarded next summer.

U.S. officials have long argued that they deserve more of the international revenue pie because U.S. sponsors and television rights holders provide the bulk of IOC revenues. The USOC is also the only national Olympic committee in the world that receives no government funding, making IOC money critical to supporting U.S. athletes.

The most recent negotiations began more than two years ago. Talks about renegotiating the deal, however, got underway more than five years ago under previous USOC president Peter Ueberroth. Those talks stalled.

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