- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2009

DENVER (AP) - Olympic officials have agreed to a system to help resolve their contentious revenue-sharing agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said Friday the USOC has agreed to negotiate a deal to pay a greater portion of some costs of running the Olympic Games. Such a concession could be worth more than $10 million.

In exchange, talks on the core part of the deal _ the USOC’s 20 percent share of sponsorship money and 12.75 percent of TV revenue _ will be delayed until 2013, and nothing would change until 2020.

Rogge also said the IOC executive board will meet to discuss the seven sports trying to get into the 2016 Games and recommend two of them to the IOC membership, which will vote on the matter in October in Denmark.

In the latest in the ongoing money dispute, a group of Olympic leaders recommended this week that the IOC terminate the contract, saying the USOC takes too big a chunk of the money.

Rogge said it was a priority to meet with new USOC chairman Larry Probst upon his arrival in Denver from Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The meeting was very constructive. That led to the joint agreement we’re having today,” Rogge said.

U.S. companies provide the lion’s share of the Olympic movement’s money through TV and advertising revenue. For instance, U.S. companies paid $894 million to televise the Beijing Games last year, compared to about $443.5 million from the European Broadcasting Union.

But the IOC counters the gap between the amount the USOC and the rest of the countries receive has grown too large as the total amount of money has increased nearly tenfold since the agreement was signed in 1996.

To alleviate some of that, the USOC will offset some of the expenses of the Olympics, such as the costs for anti-doping programs, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Olympic coordination commission.

Currently, those costs are split into thirds, paid by: the IOC; the 35 Olympic federations; and the 205 national Olympic committees.

Rogge said everyone agreed that the USOC should carry more than 1/205 of the expense.

“Given that they will receive more revenue in the future, they will contribute more than I would say the rank and file Olympic committees,” Rogge said. “How much is to be debated. How much is to be discussed.”

One of the USOC’s key negotiators, Bob Ctvrtlik, called the agreement “a new era of cooperation and friendship between the USOC and the IOC.”

And one of the most outspoken IOC critics of the USOC, Hein Verbruggen, also lauded the deal.

“We’ve always said we just wanted to get them to the table, talking seriously,” he said. “We’ve said, `We need you guys at the table. It takes some heat off Chicago.’”

Indeed, much has been made about the feud and how it might affect Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics, though leaders from both sides have steadfastly insisted there was no link.

“We never felt there was strong linkage,” Ctvrtlik said. “But in a room where one or two votes can make a difference, we’d rather have this issue behind us.”

The seven sports trying to get into the 2016 Games are baseball, softball, golf, rugby sevens, roller speedskating, squash and karate. Baseball and softball are hoping for reinstatement after being left out of the 2012 Games in London.

The two sports that will be recommended for the full IOC membership to vote on will be selected at the IOC’s executive board meeting in Berlin on Aug. 13 on the eve of the world track and field championships.

“I hope that no one is superstitious,” Rogge said.

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