Rogge won’t tip hand on next US Olympics
If there’s any sense of urgency to bring the Olympics back to
the United States, the president of the IOC isn’t tipping his
In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Jacques
Rogge said returning the games to big countries – for instance, the
U.S. after a drought of at least 20 years – is no more or less
important than someday taking them to Africa.
Rogge has carefully cultivated this down-the-middle approach in
his 10 years as the IOC’s leader. He offered neither encouragement
nor discouragement to the U.S., which pumps the most money into the
Olympic movement but is guaranteed to go at least two decades
between taking its turn as host.
”It’s important that the games come back there,” Rogge said of
the U.S., China and Russia, the three countries generally
considered the biggest in the Olympics. ”But we are also very
happy to bring games to regions or subcontinents or continents
where they’ve never been organized. One day, the games will be held
in Africa and that will be a very important aspect.”
China hosted the 2008 Olympics and Russia will host the Winter
Games in 2014. Rio de Janeiro will host the first Olympics in South
America in 2016. The U.S. last hosted in 2002 – the Salt Lake City
Neither the U.S. nor any African country bid for 2020, meaning
the next American chance would be for the 2022 Winter Olympics and
Africa’s next best chance won’t likely come until 2024. Rogge,
whose term expires in 2013, won’t be around to see either of those
games awarded and would not bite when asked which was closer to
holding an Olympics.
”To win the games you have to bid,” he said. ”If you don’t
bid, you have no chance.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee says it won’t bid until it resolves a
long-simmering feud with the IOC over revenue sharing. Currently,
the USOC receives a 20 percent share of global sponsorship revenues
and a 12.75 percent cut of U.S. broadcast rights deals. The IOC
wants more of that money.
Negotiations were fast-tracked over the summer in an apparent
attempt to iron something out in time for the USOC to meet the
September deadline to bid for 2020. But no agreement was reached
and any plans were put on hold.
Last month, however, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the federation
always remains interested in bidding.
”I think 20 years is long enough,” Blackmun said. ”I think
it’s important that we host the games in the United States as a way
to keep Americans connected to the team.”
In the interview Tuesday, Rogge agreed with Blackmun’s
sentiment, but said, ”the ones who will benefit the most will be
the USOC, of course.”
”The Olympic movement, as a whole, would benefit from coming
back to major countries on a regular basis,” Rogge said. ”But at
the same time, we need to have openings for new horizons and for
regions where no games were ever organized.”
Denver has been mentioned as a potential 2022 candidate. Rogge
said he didn’t know enough about Denver’s infrastructure to comment
on its viability. Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics but
later turned them down – a historical footnote that Rogge said
would not work against the Mile High City if it were to bid
”The issue of Denver is not an issue anymore,” Rogge said.
”There is absolutely no grudge whatsoever in the IOC for what
happened in Denver more than 40 years ago.”
Rogge was visiting Colorado Springs, the home of the U.S.
Olympic Committee, for the first time since he became president in
2001. He was in town for the IOC Athletes’ Forum, which made its
biggest news this week by recommending to the IOC that athletes
convicted of ”deliberate and aggravated” doping offenses should
receive a lifetime Olympic ban on their first offense. Most first
offenses carry a two-year suspension.
In other doping news, Rogge said he was surprised by a ruling
that will allow American sprinter LaShawn Merritt back in the
Olympics next year.
But, Rogge said, the IOC will fight to uphold the spirit of the
rule in the future.
Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the
IOC-supported rule that bans any athlete who has served a doping
suspension of more than six months, as Merritt had, from competing
in the next Olympics.
Rogge said he respected the CAS ruling but was surprised by it
because the same body had given the IOC different feedback in an
advisory opinion when the rule was passed three years ago.
Rogge said the IOC will try to have the ban included in World
Anti-Doping Agency guidelines that will be revised in 2013.
”We respect the judgment,” Rogge said. ”Our juridical team
will have to discuss and study that.”