Chicago Snub Will Have Little Effect on Olympic Deals

A domestic games would be more valuable

By Andrew Greiner
|  Monday, Oct 5, 2009  |  Updated 7:30 AM CDT
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Photos: Olympic Shock

AP

Sara Urban, from Cleveland, Ohio, shows off her altered sign after the announcement from the 121st International Olympic Committee on the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Chicago, Friday, Oct. 2, 2009. Chicago was eliminated after the first vote in Copenhagen.

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Could the International Olympic Committee’s Chicago snub cost them?

There has been some speculation in the aftermath of the crushing first round defeat of the sole US bid that American advertisers would be reticent to sign on to sponsor the games in Rio de Janiero.

But that’s not the case. Capitalism knows no borders.

Illinois-based McDonald's will likely be back as a leading sponsor despite its Chicago roots.

"(McDonald's) have told us absolutely no [the decision will not change their sponsorship plans]," IOC director of television and marketing Timo Lumme. "The choice of host city is absolutely irrelevant …"

McDonald's is part of The Olympic Partners (TOP) program, nine global sponsors who are paying $900 million to $920 million for the 2010-2012 period covering the Vancouver Winter Olympics and London Games.

He said U.S. viewers would not care about Chicago's defeat when the Vancouver Olympics begin Feb. 12.

"There will be full-on Olympic fever," he said. "The American public will be focusing on supporting their athletes and their team.

"(The Olympic Games) is what it is all about, it's the excitement. I think everything else will be consigned to a footnote."

Lumme said the IOC still hoped to add one or two more TOP sponsors for the Vancouver-London cycle.

The IOC already has five companies — Panasonic, Samsung, Omega, Coca-Cola and Atos Origin — signed up though 2016.

What could be affected, however, are the television rights to the Games. Had the Games been staged on US soil, the bidding war between broadcasters would have been fierce.

"Obviously, the domestic games would be more valuable," IOC finance commission chairman Richard Carrion said.

But now there's no rush to secure the American deal — the most lucrative in the IOC's portfolio. It might not be done for another three years if the economy doesn't improve.

"We have plenty of time and it doesn't have to be in 2010. We could conceivably do a deal as late as 2012," Carrion said.

U.S. networks including NBC, ABC-ESPN and Fox were expected to bid for combined rights to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and a potential 2016 Chicago games.

NBC paid $2.2 billion for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2012 London Games.

The IOC gets more than half its revenue from broadcasting deals, and U.S. deals alone have been worth more than the rest of the world's broadcasters combined.

Carrion, an IOC executive board member from Puerto Rico, said the timing of U.S. negotiations was not dictated by Friday's host vote. Rio defeated Madrid 66-32 in the final round after Chicago and Tokyo were eliminated.

"I've always said it's more a matter of where the economy is heading rather than the selection of the host city," Carrion said.

Carrion did not expect the popularity of the Olympics to suffer a backlash from American viewers and advertisers after the manner of Chicago's defeat.

"It's still a premium brand. I would not read much into it that they were eliminated in the first round," Carrion said.

Just 18 of 95 IOC voters supported Chicago despite personal pleas in the final presentation Friday from President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

"I don't think this will affect the television discussions," Carrion said. "This is a competition like any competition. But there is only one gold medal, and no silver and bronze."

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