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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Swimming, gymnastics get boost

Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Swimming and gymnastics were the big winners Wednesday in a new revenue-sharing ranking of Olympic sports, signaling the start of the debate over how to split the money from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The International Olympic Committee executive board promoted the international swimming and gymnastics federations into the top tier along with track and field in a list of five groups comprising the 28 summer Olympic sports.

Previously, the International Association of Athletics Federations was ranked alone in the highest of four groups and received the biggest share of the hundreds of millions of dollars generated from television rights and other deals from each Summer Games.

Under a revised formula announced by IOC president Jacques Rogge, swimming body FINA and gymnastics federation FIG join the IAAF in Group A. One of the big losers was modern pentathlon, which dropped into a new Group E, the bottom rung.

The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, the umbrella group comprising all the sports, asked the IOC to come up with the new groupings. Now it will be up to ASOIF to figure out how to divvy up the money.

"You are throwing a hot potato in our hands," Rogge told ASOIF president Francesco Ricci Bitti. "Now I am handing you back the hot potato."

While the IAAF is now expected to receive less than before, IAAF president Lamine Diack made clear he thinks his sport remains the top draw at the Olympics and deserves the greatest share.

"Aquatics is a nice sport. Gymnastics is a nice sport," Diack said. "But you cannot compare with athletics. We are the only sport which makes the games universal. We filled the stadium in London for nine days. The games in Rio will start when the athletics starts. The sport that will make the games special is athletics."

The IAAF is getting about $45 million from the total of $520 million in revenues being shared among the federations from last year's London Olympics.

"The IAAF will get less money than in the past," ASOIF director general Andrew Ryan said. "The groups are very important, but we don't know yet how the calculations will work for Rio."

The second-tier Group B comprises basketball, cycling, football, tennis and volleyball.

Group C has archery, badminton, boxing, judo, rowing, shooting, table tennis and weightlifting.

Group D is made up of canoe/kayaking, equestrian, fencing, handball, field hockey, sailing, taekwondo, triathlon and wrestling.

Group E has modern pentathlon, golf and rugby. Golf and rugby are new sports for Rio, and were put in the bottom rung because there is no way to gauge their revenue impact.

According to Ryan, the sports that moved up in the groupings were table tennis, badminton, boxing, judo, archery, shooting and weightlifting. Moving down were equestrian, handball, hockey and modern pentathlon.

Under the previous formula, the federations in Group B received $22 million, with $16 million for Group C and $14 million for Group D.

Rogge said the London revenues of $520 million represent a 75 percent increase from the $296 million from the 2008 Beijing Games. The figure was $256 million for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Rogge said the IOC will pay out the last installment of London revenues to the federations within a month once the financial books are closed.