International federations offered loans as Swiss government outlines CHF500m repayable aid package

The Olympic Rings in front of the IOC HQ in Lausanne, Switzerland (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

International federations based in Switzerland will be able to access repayable loans part-covered by the International Olympic Committee following financial measures put in place by the Swiss government.

The government scheme, which also includes a total of CHF350m (€333m/$360m) in federal loans for the Swiss football and ice hockey leagues, along with CHF150m for other elite sport and clubs, has been announced in response to the sports shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The loan programme for international federations will be covered in a 50-50 split by the Lausanne-based IOC and the federal and cantonal authorities.

The federal council said that certain international federations “are at risk of insolvency, for example due to the cancellation of major national and international sporting events”.

The repayable aid is not available to the IOC, Fifa or Uefa given their existing financial clout and reserves. The Zurich-based Fifa, which had cash reserves of $2.74bn (€2.53bn) according to its latest accounts, recently announced its own $150m emergency package for its 211 member national associations.

Many international federations are faced with the threat of cash-flow shortages after the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics raised doubts over when they would receive a share of revenues from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC distributes revenue to international federations in different tiers based on their audience and size.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “The IOC thanks the Swiss Federal Council for the offer to support the international sports federations jointly with the IOC. We are fully committed to successfully delivering this international sports federation support programme in co-operation with the Swiss authorities. This initiative is a great acknowledgement of the importance of the international sports federations and sport.”

Meanwhile, the first round of loans for Swiss football and ice hockey will be available to clubs through the league organisers in order to cover team losses from June 1 onwards for six months.

A total of CHF100m will initially be available to Swiss football teams and another CHF100m will be available from the government in 2021 “in the case that competitions are only possible in a reduced fashion for a year”.

The federal council has outlined repayable financial aid of CHF75m for Swiss ice hockey clubs and a further CHF75m in 2021.

The CHF500m repayable aid is in addition to the CHF100m sports funding package ratified by the Swiss government towards the end of March.

A caveat is attached to the loans in that clubs must maintain their youth development structure at the same level as before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and that the funds are not intended to cover the salaries of “certain players”.

Clubs from Switzerland’s top two football divisions are to decide on May 29 whether to restart the competitions next month with behind-closed-doors matches.

Swiss ice hockey’s top-tier National League and second-tier Swiss League were cancelled entirely because of the coronavirus crisis. The sport was dealt another blow in Switzerland when the IIHF World Championship, set to be staged in Lausanne and Zurich, was cancelled.