USOC reaches deal with IOC in revenue dispute
Olympics • Resolution clears the way for another American bid — maybe from Salt Lake City?
Published: May 24, 2012 10:02AM
Updated: June 15, 2012 04:24PM

Quebec City • International and U.S. Olympic leaders finalized a new revenue-sharing agreement on Thursday that ends years of acrimony between the powerful bodies and clears the way for future American bids for the games — possibly from Salt Lake City.

After years of protracted negotiations, the landmark deal was signed by both sides after receiving final approval from the International Olympic Committee executive board.

The long-term agreement was formally announced at a news conference by IOC President Jacques Rogge and U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun.

“This is a very happy moment,” Rogge said. “This agreement will definitely strengthen both sides.”

Probst called it a “terrific arrangement for both the IOC and the USOC, a great outcome for the Olympic movement around the world.”

The deal, which runs until 2040, resolves the long-running dispute over the U.S. share of Olympic television and marketing revenues that soured relations and undermined recent American bids for the games.

The USOC had said repeatedly it would not bid again until the revenue issue was resolved. With a deal in place, the U.S. will consider whether to bid for the 2022 Winter Games or 2024 Summer Olympics. Various leaders in Salt Lake City have expressed interest in bidding for the 2022 Olympics, after having successfully staged the 2002 Winter Games.

“We hope this has removed a road block from a successful bid for the United States,” Probst said, adding that the USOC would hold a board meeting in San Francisco in June to consider how to move forward.

Lingering international resentment over the U.S. share of revenues was a key factor in New York’s failed bid for the 2012 Olympics and Chicago’s stinging first-round elimination in the vote for the 2016 Games.

Under a long-standing contract, the USOC has received a 20 percent share of global sponsorship revenue and a 12.75 percent cut of U.S. broadcast rights deals. The IOC believed the U.S. share, set out in an open-ended contract dating to 1996, was excessive and should be renegotiated.

The IOC and USOC officials declined to give specifics of the new deal at the news conference.

However, officials familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press the new revenue-sharing terms will take effect in 2020. According to two senior officials with knowledge of the terms, the USOC will retain the revenue it currently receives but its TV rights share will be reduced to 7 percent on any increases in broadcast deals and its marketing share cut in half to 10 percent on increases in sponsorship revenue.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms are not being made public.

In addition, the USOC agreed to contribute to the administrative costs of staging the Olympics — $15 million through 2020 and $20 million after 2020, the officials said. The contract also covers issues related to ownership of Olympic rights, trademarks and historic TV footage.

Talks to reach a settlement have been going on for more than two years. The deal was essentially sealed when IOC director general Christophe De Kepper traveled to Washington last week to meet with Blackmun and tie up the final details. Both men got the backing of their respective boards.

The U.S. last hosted the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta and last staged the Winter Games in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Among the U.S. cities that have expressed early interest in bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics are Salt Lake City; Denver; Reno-Lake Tahoe, Nevada; and Bozeman, Montana. Dallas is among those interested in the 2024 Summer Olympics.