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IOC unveils $150m support for international federations and NOCs

IOC president Thomas Bach (Photo by DENIS BALIBOUSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee is to provide a financial aid package of up to $150m (€139m) for international federations, National Olympic Committees and “IOC-recognised entities” following the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The repayable aid was announced today by IOC president Thomas Bach just 24 hours after the Swiss government announced plans to provide international federations based in Switzerland access to repayable loans part-covered by the IOC.

Much-needed support for the international federations comes as part of the IOC’s “envelope of up to $800m” to address the financial consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. This includes costs of $650m that the IOC expects to bear for the organisation of a postponed Olympics.

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

Asked by SportBusiness during a teleconference call with journalists about support for international federations based outside Switzerland and whether advanced payments could be made to ease cash flow problems, Bach said: “We have been in contact with all of the Olympic summer federations to discuss the impact of the postponement of the Games and with this also the postponement of the international federations’ share via the commercial success of the Games.

“These are ongoing discussions and they are separate from the support programme offered by the Swiss government yesterday [Wednesday].”

The 32 international federations that are part of the Tokyo 2020 sports programme qualify for support from the IOC’s scheme announced today. This includes the five sports added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, namely baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing.

Only international federations in summer sports qualify for support through the initiative but Bach said that the IOC remained “in consultation” with Olympic winter sports federations.

The $150m package unveiled today does not mean that the IOC will no longer consider cash advances to international federations, according to Bach. He said that the IOC was “very well advanced” in discussions about assisting the different sports.

The Swiss government scheme, which also includes up to CHF350m (€333m/$360m) in federal loans for the Swiss football and ice hockey leagues, along with CHF150m for other elite sport and clubs, is chiefly designed to support international federations whose own events have been cancelled or postponed. The IOC support announced today is to help international federations left struggling after the deferral of the Olympic revenue payments.

The IOC distributes revenue to international federations in different tiers based on their audience and size.

Many of the federations are highly dependent on Olympic revenues and have been hit particularly hard by the postponement of the 2020 Games in Tokyo. The London-based World Sailing, which had already turned to a temporary overdraft facility before the Covid-19 crisis, was due to receive £12.24m (€13.8m/$14.9m) in Olympic income in the second half of 2020. This equated to 77.4 per cent of the £15.81m in projected 2020 income.

The Lausanne-based International Canoe Federation recently approved different budget scenarios in response to the Tokyo 2020 postponement, including the possibility that the Olympic Games do not take place in 2021 at all.

Asked if other international federations should adopt similar measures, Bach retorted: “I will not interfere into the financial planning of the relevant international federations. What we have advised them to do in recent years is to follow the example of the IOC and to have prudent risk management and be prepared for any kind of unexpected events as we have to face now.”

The Swiss government’s repayable aid scheme is not available to the IOC itself, 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.

In response to the project, Bach said that the IOC is “fully committed to successfully delivering this international sports federation support programme in co-operation with the Swiss authorities”.

The $650m in additional costs to be incurred by the IOC following the 12-month postponement of the Tokyo Games includes operational costs such as the Games department continuing to ensure the delivery of the event and another year’s worth of costs at Olympic Broadcasting Services, the host broadcast arm.