DENVER, (Reuters) – High-ranking Olympic officials have blasted the U.S. Olympic Committee for dragging their feet on negotiating a new revenue-sharing agreement.
Fed up with the pace of negotiations that have dragged on for years, angry members of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) took action on Tuesday.
They passed a resolution that will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board asking that the long-standing agreement between the USOC and IOC be immediately terminated.
“I feel we have been taken by the nose for three years by USOC,” said Hein Verbruggen, the former chief of the International Cycling Union. “That’s my conclusion.
“I am angry.”
The contentious debate over how Olympic revenues are split has dominated talk among the 1,200 international sports officials gathering in Denver this week for the SportAccord convention and IOC executive board meetings.
Senior IOC officials argue that USOC receives more than its fair share from global marketing contracts and U.S. broadcasting revenues and are seeking a fairer distribution of the Olympic pie.
The USOC maintains it is entitled to a larger share since it is American television rights and sponsors that keeps Olympic coffers flush with cash, providing the IOC with more than 50 percent of its revenues.
“The IOC and sport can not be slaves to the contract that has been signed at a time that has nothing to do with present days,” said Marius Vizer, president of the international judo federation. Tensions escalated during a heated ASOIF general assembly, as Denis Oswald, who was re-elected president of ASOIF, and Verbruggen led the call for action on the revenue-sharing dispute.
The ugly mood appeared to catch USOC off guard, surprised officials immediately calling reporters to an impromptu meeting to outline their view of negotiations and ask for calm.
“We’re looking for a long-term solution and it’s probably not best to do it in an emotional or pressure environment,” said Bob Ctvrtlik, USOC vice-chairman for international relations and part of the four-member negotiating team. “It’s not easy, it is complicated and I think we all need to do that in a nice calm manner.
“No one can say there have not been substantial offers made in writing. The prior leadership as well as the current leadership has made … effort to resolve this issue and any other issues that arise.
“We’re trying to completely and thoroughly listen and understand arguments that have been made from the international federations. They have some very good points, but in a calm reasoned dialogue not negotiating through the press we would like to come to a solution that benefits all members of the Olympic movement.”