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Inside the Games

Olympism takes centre stage

By choosing Los Angeles, the IOC made an historic choice in conferring the organisation of the Games to a private, and therefore non-publicly funded, organisation.

The black mayor of the Californian city, Tom Bradley, handed the bulk of the organising agenda over to one man, 47-year-old accomplished businessman, Peter Ueberroth.

His first objective was clear: the Games would take place without the city, or the people of California, having to put their hands into their pockets.

To achieve this goal, the organisation of the Games was trusted to a totally independent and private committee, notably at the financing level, and it was decided not to undertake any unnecessary building projects. Apart from building necessary facilities such as the velodrome and the swimming pool, no new facilities were constructed for the Games.

TV rights set their own record

The president of the organising committee, the LAOOC, produced a three-tier system of financing the Games.

First of all, television rights. ABC were given the right to retransmit, exclusively, for the bargain price of 225 million dollars. The subsequent sale of the TV rights abroad would eventually attract $50 million dollars. These sums, payable in advance, were non-refundable.

The next level of financing concerned the sale of tickets. In total, 7.8 million entry tickets were sold, bringing in almost $90 million dollars, the average price of a ticket being $18 dollars.

Elsewhere, to avoid the possibility of incurring a loss, the LAOOC was also financially supported by about 100 "Olympic sponsors", who guaranteed 25% of the budget. The minimum participation fee was $4 million dollars each. A total of $140 million extra dollars were thus added to the account.


To make even more money from the event, the 19,000km journey of the Olympic flame across 40 of America's states was put up for sale.

Although some of this profit was later ploughed back into regional sports programs across America, the total net profit was another $30 million dollars.

Works undertaken concerning the renovation of existing facilities were given over to certain private companies, with the result that the American fast food chain, McDonald's, paid $4 million dollars to have its name associated with the newly-built Olympic pool.

The overall result was $150 million dollars profit. Another first in the history of the organisation of the event. Never in the history of the Olympics had an organising committee made such significant steps, and produced such a positive financial result.

Copyright 2012 Agence France-Presse.