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US pulls out of bid for 2020 Summer Olympics

Locked in a dispute over millions of dollars, the US Olympic Committee pulled the plug last night on a bid for the 2020 Summer Games.

Atlanta in 1996 was the last time the Summer Games were hosted in the States.
Atlanta in 1996 was the last time the Summer Games were hosted in the States.
Image: Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport

THIS TIME AROUND, the United States are saying no to the Olympics.

Locked in a dispute over millions of dollars, the US Olympic Committee pulled the plug last night on a bid for the 2020 Summer Games before the International Olympic Committee could say no to the Americans, as it has the last two times.

The two sides have been at odds over a revenue-sharing agreement for years.

By not submitting a bid, the USOC assures at least a 20-year gap between Olympics on American soil for only the fourth time.

Chicago, New York and Dallas were among the cities interested in the 2020 games, but any bid was contingent upon a new deal with the IOC.

Recently, negotiations had picked up in an effort to meet a 1 September deadline for countries to submit a city’s name for consideration. But with so much money and a long-term commitment at stake, the USOC decided not to rush.

“I think it’s one of the smartest things they could do right now,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, one of the country’s most important, and successful, Olympic sports.

“It’s very important they get this revenue-sharing deal done the right way. Having an Olympic bid hanging over your head is going to change the way you think about one of the most important business decisions you’re going to make for the USOC in the foreseeable future.”

At the heart of the disagreement is the USOC’s long-standing 20% share of global sponsorship revenues and 12.75% cut of US broadcast rights deals. The IOC wants more of that money.

Because of the revenue generated in the United States and the success of its teams, the Olympic movement needs the USOC more than any other national body. It’s a delicate dance, however, because there are some in the IOC who resent the United States for the power it holds.

There won’t be any deal soon. Publicly, at least, the IOC did not sound distressed.

“The United States and its athletes have made, and continue to make, a huge contribution to the Olympic Movement,” IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said. “We always welcome a bid from such a key partner and look forward to a bid in the near future.”

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