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LANE ONE: USOPC nears $900m in total assets, spent $200m on athlete support, including $81m to athletes in 2021, but needs more

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The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee is big. Really big. Larger than all but one International Federation, and probably the third richest Olympic Movement organization in the world.

USOPCs financial statements for 2021 were released at the end of June and show a complex, multi-layered organization that emerged from the most devastating period of the global Covid pandemic with impressive total assets of $898.6 million.

With operations slowly returning to normal and the promotional push ahead of the Games in Los Angeles in 2028 and possible Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2030, it is possible to imagine the USOPC as a business of a billion dollars – on paper, anyway – by the end of this decade.

How does this juggernaut of 525 employees and 795 volunteers compare to the biggest players in the Olympic Movement? Very well indeed; by total assets from audited financial statements (* = converted to US dollars, from Swiss francs):

● $5.609 billion: International Olympic Committee (end 2021)

Selected International Federations:
● $5.492 billion: FIFA (football; end of 2021)
● $295.4* million: ISU (skating: end of 2021)
● $221.6* million: FINA (aquatics: end of 2021)
● $160.8* million: FIBA ​​​​(basketball: end of 2020)
● $133.0* million: FIVB (volleyball: end of 2020)
● $132.2* million: FIS (ski & snowboard: end of 2021)
● $104.7* million: UCI (cycling: end of 2021)
● $55.6 million: World Athletics (end 2020)
● $49.0* million: IIHF (ice hockey: mid-2020)
● $45.3* million: FIG (gymnastics: end of 2020)

Financial information for other National Olympic Committees was difficult to obtain, but the Canadian Olympic Committee had total assets of US$174.7 million at the end of 2021 and the Japanese Olympic Committee had $72.2 million in assets (converted to yen) at the end of 2020. It should be noted that in Japan, 41.3% of its fiscal 2020 budget consisted of government grants.

The USOPC receives no government funding and is still bigger than everyone but the IOC and FIFA. Lots of numbers to show, so take it easy. But it’s interesting.

USOPCs finance show a three-part organization: the USOPC operating division, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, which raises funds, and the United States Olympic Endowment, which invested the $111.4 million dollars that the then USOC received as a 40% share of the surplus from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and pays grants to the USOPC itself from investment income. Assets declared at the end of 2021:

● USOPC: $497.9 million (operating)
● USOPF: $53.4 million (fundraising)
● USOE: $492.4 million (endowment)

Of the total USOE, some $101.0 million is held on behalf of the National Governing Bodies who have placed their 20% share of the LA84 surplus with the USOC share for joint investment. And the USOPC itself borrowed $133 million during the pandemic and owes $131.1 million, with the notes due to mature in 2031.

The removal of all liabilities and holdings for others and the USOPC net assets are still at a very good level of $568.1 million through the end of 2021. Wow.

So why can’t he spend whatever he wants for whatever he wants?

Once you boil down the USOPC Foundation and the US Olympic Endowment, the USOPC itself has assets of $265.2 million, and had revenues in 2021 of $459.9 million and expenses of $353.1 million for a net gain of $106.8 million in an Olympics year in 2021. The money came mainly from two sources:

● $205.5 million: IOC TOP sponsors and USOPC sponsors
● $191.0 million: IOC TV share and Olympic Trials TV sales

This represents 86.2% of all USOPC revenue for 2021. Contributions were $14.8 million to USOPC and an additional $36.0 million to the USOPC Foundation, and there had investment income in the three entities of $50.9 million. Looking at the entities combined, 80.5% of all revenue came from sponsors and television, with 18.4% from donations and investments; it’s 98.9%.

The money doesn’t come as fast in non-Olympic years: $208.2m in revenue for 2020 and $205.2m in 2019. So the IOC money makes a big difference, maybe $250m dollars in an Olympic year and $135 million or more in a year. The year of the Winter Games!

The USOPC is well aware of the interest in the amounts it pays athletes and the athlete support services. Beginning with the 2020 Financial Statements, a table has been added to break down USOPC expenditures for Direct Athlete Payments, Athlete Support, Direct Payments to National Governing Bodies, and NGB Support Services:

● 2020: $107.7 million, $31.8 million in athlete grants and $57.2 million in NGB grants
● 2021: $158.9 million, $46.1 million in athlete grants and $68.1 million in NGB grants

This is a 48% increase in one year and a 45% increase in direct subsidies to athletes; it’s also important to note that some of the NGB grant money also ended up going directly to the athletes. NGB’s largest grant payments went to:

1. $6.8 million: skiing and snowboarding in the United States
2. $5.4 million: United States Athletics
3. $5.1 million: USA Swimming
4. $3.3 million: American Gymnastics
5. $2.3 million: United States Bobsleigh & Skeleton

Largest recipients of Direct Athlete Grants:

1. $5.5 million: American track and field athletes
2. $4.5 million: American swimming athletes
3. $2.9 million: American volleyball athletes
4. $2.8 million: American ski and snowboard athletes
5. $2.7 million: U.S. Paralympic track and field athletes

Thus, for the critical clenched teeth who shout that the USOPC only spent 10% on payments to athletes ($46.1 million out of $459.9 in revenue), the truest figure starts at 34.5% with the 158.9 million dollars in payments to athletes, for athlete services and to NGBs in cash and services.

Another graph shows the breakdown of $200.1 million (43.5%) spent on “Athlete Excellence”, including $80.8 million for all Athlete Grants (18%), plus 40, $9 million for Games support, $23.1 million for sports medicine, $22.5 million for training facilities, $6.6 million for sports science, etc. That’s the number the USOPC shows as its funding commitment to athlete programs in 2021. And they spent the money.

And let’s face it: Athletes need coaches, places to train, sports medical aid and that $40.9 million in support to get to Tokyo and other competitions. and return safely.

USOPC senior staff are well paid for what they do. The last page of the 2021 financial statements shows the top 20 staff by compensation, all of whom had a total salary (including benefits) of $285,159 or more.

Even with all this wealth, it is not enough. The 2019 Boundary Commission report, which examined the structure of the USOPC following the Nassar gym abuse scandal, noted:

“Elite athletes from other countries often receive significant government funding. The USOPC is to establish a program of basic financial support directly to athletes, although the Commission realizes that different categories of athlete will receive different levels of support. The Commission further recognizes that any significant source of such funds must be sourced creatively beyond current revenue streams. »

USOPC’s 2019 financial statements showed direct support to athletes and NGB of $96.6 million, which increased 22.3% to $121.5 million for 2021. they mean and former Chairman of the USOPC Athlete Advisory Council Han Xiao is co-chair and was also a member of the Boundary Commission, which provides continuity between these review efforts.

Looking carefully, not so much at what has happened in the past, but what may happen in the future, will be the new Chairman of the Board of USOPC Gene Sykeswho will take over in January 2023.

Even with so much money on paper, the USOPC needs more money to create annual stipends for athletes and closer cooperation with national governing bodies to develop well-defined competition and training environments that lead to success on the field and create new enthusiasm for Olympic sports as the unparalleled NCAA training system in the United States is on the verge of collapse.

The USOPC is rich, but although the rest of the world doesn’t want to hear it, it needs to get rich.

Rich Perelman

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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion