Friday, January 13, 2012
More progress made in talks, IOC says
LONDON -- U.S. and international Olympic officials made "good progress" Friday in their latest round of talks on the revenue-sharing dispute that is holding up potential American bids for the games, an IOC negotiator said.
The two sides met for about five hours in a new effort to resolve an issue that has divided the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee for several years.
"We had very good talks," Gerhard Heiberg, one of three IOC negotiators, told The Associated Press by telephone. "We have good progress. We are optimistic and little by little we continue to move in the right direction."
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun also gave an upbeat assessment.
"We had very good meetings today with a very good tone of discussion with the IOC," he said. "We look forward to future discussion."
The negotiations, which began more than a year ago, are aimed at resolving the dispute over the U.S. share of Olympic television and marketing revenues. The IOC believes the American cut is excessive and should be redistributed.
Under a long-standing contract, the USOC receives a 20 percent share of global sponsorship revenue and a 12.75 percent share of U.S. broadcast rights deals. Any new formula would go into effect after 2020.
Both sides had hoped to reach an accord last year, but the talks hit a roadblock.
"Little by little we will get the breakthrough," Heiberg said Friday. "We feel ... that yes we're going to make it. I think we're getting closer."
No date was set for the next round of talks.
Heiberg was accompanied on the IOC side by executive board member Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico and IOC director general Christophe De Kepper. The USOC delegation consisted of Blackmun, USOC chairman Larry Probst and Fraser Bullock, the former chief executive officer of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee.
The talks were held in Innsbruck, Austria, where the officials attended the opening of the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics.
After New York's unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Olympics and Chicago's humiliating first-round defeat in the vote for the 2016 Games, the USOC has repeatedly said it will not bid again until the revenue issue is resolved.
The next chance would be for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and the USOC is already hearing interest from potential bid cities. Denver has formed an exploratory committee on a possible bid, while Reno-Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Salt Lake City are also in the mix.