IFs ready campaign to amend IOC revenue distribution model for Paris 2024
By Jonathan Rest at SportAccord in Gold Coast
Pressure is ramping up on the International Olympic Committee to revisit its revenue-sharing distribution model in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with a handful of international federation presidents, led by handball’s Hassan Moustafa, beginning to rebel at the current system.
The 28 permanent ASOIF members were forced to vote three times to approve the revenue split for Tokyo 2020 after Moustafa twice rejected the resolution – a two-thirds majority rule comes into force under ASOIF’s constitution if unanimity cannot be achieved after two rounds of voting – at ASOIF's general assembly in Gold Coast.
The Egyptian official, whose federation is in the fourth group of five, called the current system “unfair” and the process by which it came to being back in 2013 “not transparent,” and while no other international federation spoke up during the session or in a subsequent meeting with the IOC executive board, Sportcal has learned that there is growing unrest.
In particular, despite proclamations by both the IOC and ASOIF that the revenue distribution among the five groups does not constitute a ranking system, some international federations want a model that achieves greater parity.
One IF president, who did not want to be named, told Sportcal: “Of course it is a ranking system. It is a model that says sport X is more valuable to us [the IOC] than sport Y. The money now from the Olympics for many federations is not as essential as it once was. But this is about status.”
The exact amount of money to be distributed in the next Olympic quadrennial period is still to be fully finalised, but it is expected to represent a slight increase on the $550 million distributed after the Rio 2016 games.
The figure was $515 million after London 2012, itself a huge increase on the $296 million distributed after the Beijing 2008 games.
While the exact figure is not known, the same groupings will remain in place for Tokyo 2020.
Athletics is in Group A with aquatics and gymnastics, and for the first time the trio will receive equal amounts of money.
Athletics received about $40 million for Rio 2016, compared with $45 million after London 2012, while aquatics and gymnastics got about $32 million each, compared with $25 million, despite being promoted from Group B.
However, back in 2015 there was an agreement to try to achieve parity for Tokyo 2020 in Group A, and this has now been agreed upon.
Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of ASOIF, told members: “We have to honour the grouping change that was made after London 2012. We know it was not very welcome by some. For Tokyo, we have to agree on two items: honour our commitments to adjust Group A; and distribute democratically as much as we can the rest.
“This is not a ranking of the sport. The purpose of these groupings was to evaluate the contribution to the games. A sport that has only two days [of competition] cannot contribute as much as one that has 15 days or three disciplines.
“We can propose to the IOC to review again the criteria, but this is not our decision. It is not our position to take care of individual interests. I do not see the IOC being too keen to look at this again. The last review was very disruptive, and not so much productive for our family.”
Moustafa, often an outspoken figure at ASOIF meetings, argued: “Is this fair and correct? This change… was personal to put us down a group. Where is the transparency and governance? It is not correct. To get answers the IOC tell us, ‘go to ASOIF’. ASOIF tell us, ‘go to the IOC’. We are like a bear in the middle.
“It is not fair. I’m not talking about the money. We are a rich federation because we have a contract [with the Lagardère Sports agency] worth over €100 million [$112 million]. I’m talking about fairness, correctness and transparency.”
Ricci Bitti responded: “Even if I share your frustration, we have a responsibility to make a distribution model from money that is made available from the IOC.
“We are a family and we have to follow the decision. We decided not to review it before Tokyo in agreement with the IOC. The IOC now looks even less interested in changing it. We try to be democratic, and at least the difference in money [between the groups] is not so significant.
“This is not the responsibility of ASOIF. We can ask and propose to review the grouping. The criteria and the grouping and the money available are decided by the executive board of the IOC.”
Under the distribution arrangements, announced by ASOIF in 2015, two years after the IOC had regrouped federations and added a fifth group to take into account the addition of rugby sevens and golf to the programme for Rio 2016, handball was one of the sports to be demoted to Group D, as was equestrian and field hockey.
That meant that trio received around $15 million each from Rio 2016, down 13.5 per cent on London 2012. They are expected to receive a similar amount for Tokyo 2020, as even if the total pot increases, priority must be given to increasing gymnastics and aquatics share.
Ingmar de Vos, president of the FEI, equestrianism’s governing body, who was yesterday elected onto the ASOIF council, told Sportcal: “This is one of the most important missions now of the ASOIF board. We have to look at what are the options. It is a complex situation but we absolutely need to review it because sports are evolving, audiences are evolving.
“We were downgraded, which was hard for us because we really believe that at London we had a fantastic games, so we really did not understand. We know this is a very sensitive and difficult decision.
“We are very happy to hear that it is not a classification or ranking of sports. If that was the case we would absolutely not accept this because we believe we are higher. This situation from a financial perspective does not really have a big importance for us, because we don’t rely so much on that revenue.
“Maybe we can find an elegant way to get away from this grouping system. Perhaps a minimum guarantee and then a variable rate based on performance. We need to look at this.”
The groupings for Tokyo 2020 remain:
aquatics; athletics; gymnastics
basketball; cycling; football (soccer); tennis; volleyball
archery; badminton; boxing; judo; rowing; shooting; table tennis; weightlifting
canoe/kayak; equestrian; fencing; handball; (field) hockey; sailing; taekwondo; triathlon, wrestling
modern pentathlon; golf; rugby sevens.
Ricci Bitti told Sportcal that the issue will top the agenda over the next few years, and said it has been further complicated by the addition of sports to the programme on a games-by-games basis.
While the governing bodies of surfing, karate, baseball-softball, sport climbing and skateboarding will be compensated for their involvement at Tokyo 2020, they are not included in the ASOIF groupings.
However, surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding have all been proposed to stay on the programme for Paris 2024, while baseball-softball is highly expected to return for Los Angeles four years later.
Ricci Bitti said: “We have to decide which are the criteria to make some sports becoming Olympic sports. You can’t just ask them to keep coming along for the ride and not get anything for it.
“So we need to look at what is the criteria for sports going in and out? Does three or four times in the games have to be consecutive? Or can it be three or four times in any way? Baseball, for example, will most likely be back for Los Angeles, so we really need to decide there.
“I think we’ll have to ask the session of the IOC to look again at the [Olympic] Charter.”