David Owen

Lost in the drama of last week’s Extraordinary Session in Lausanne, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its 2016 annual report.

With attention understandably riveted on new French President Emmanuel Macron and the latest twists of the bizarre 2024/2028 bidding race, coverage of the new figures has been sparse.

So I thought it would be helpful if I devoted this week’s column to picking out a few highlights; 2016, after all, was a Summer Games year and hence marks the end of the latest four-year Olympic cycle.

The number one message to come from the document is that the economic slowdown with which so many of us have had to contend in recent times has affected even the IOC.

Don't worry, the quadrennium was not a complete disaster: far from it, total revenue over the 2013-2016 period reached $5.7 billion (£4.4 billion/€4.9 billion) - an increase of 7.6 per cent over the prior cycle.

Incidentally, it is always worth bearing in mind when knee-deep in IOC accounts how much of this revenue comes from the single source of NBC, the US network which holds broadcasting rights for the Games in their most lucrative market.

In June 2011, NBC agreed to pay fractionally over $2 billion (£1.5 billion/€1.7 billion) for US rights to Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016. I make that just over 35 per cent of the newly-announced 2013-2016 total.

The economic slowdown has hit Thomas Bach's International Olympic Committee ©Getty Images
The economic slowdown has hit Thomas Bach's International Olympic Committee ©Getty Images

It is only when you compare this 7.6 per cent growth rate to what happened earlier in the millennium that you realise how things have changed.

A chart in the report reminds us that total revenue in 2001-2004, a period culminating with the Athens Summer Games, stood at $3 billion (£2.2 billion/€2.6 billion). This rose to $3.9 billion (£2.9 billion/€3.3 billion) in 2005-2008 and $5.2 billion (£3.9 billion/€4.5 billion) in 2009-2012.

Convert these numbers into percentages and I come up with a growth rate of 30 per cent between the Athens cycle and the quadrennium culminating at Beijing 2008, and of 33 per cent between Beijing and London 2012.

The slowdown is even more striking for the International Sports Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) which rely, in some cases heavily, on IOC distributions.

Tables in the report show that gross revenue distributions to Olympic Solidarity and NOCs in the Sochi/Rio cycle totalled $739 million (£567 million/€641 million) – a tidy sum, but one barely changed from the $735 million (£564 million/€637 million) distributed to them in the Vancouver/London 2012 quadrennium.

The picture for IFs was similar, with, once again, $739 million received this time around, up from $729 million (£559 million/€632 million) last time.

The IF distribution from Sochi alone – at $199 million (£153 million/€172 million) – was actually lower than the $209 million (£160 million/€181 million) received from Vancouver 2010.

Make the comparison with earlier cycles and the transformation is truly dramatic.

For the NOCs, $321 million (£246 million/€278 million) received for 2001-2004, climbed to $437 million (£335 million/€379 million) for 2005-2008 and $735 million for 2009-2012.

In other words, growth of 36 per cent and then a remarkable 68 per cent has now been dragged back to 0.5 per cent.

The corresponding figures for IFs were $349 million (£268 million/€303 million) in 2001-2004, $425 million (£326 million/€368 million) in 2005-2008 and $729 million in 2009-2012.

These produce corresponding growth rates of 21.8 per cent and 71.5 per cent, which has now collapsed to 1.4 per cent.

Total expenditures in relation to Rio 2016 reached $463.7 million ©Getty Images
Total expenditures in relation to Rio 2016 reached $463.7 million ©Getty Images

In such circumstances, I think other expenditure is bound to come under scrutiny:

IF and NOC representatives may note, for example, that Olympic Channel expenditure in 2016 was up to $63.6 million (£48.7 million/€55.1 million); that salaries and social charges climbed 13 per cent year-on-year to $76.4 million (£58.5 million/€66.2 million); and that salaries and short-term benefits of IOC executive management, excluding IOC President Thomas Bach, rose 3.2 per cent to $8.79 million (£6.7 million/€7.6 million).

They may also glean from the new document that total expenditures in relation to Rio 2016 reached $463.7 million (£335 million/€402 million), including $43.4 million (£33.2 million/€37.6 million) on "IOC operations" and more than $321 million (£246 million/€278 million) on broadcasting costs.

Somewhat surprisingly, in such a calamitous year for doping stories, the note concerning "earmarked funds" suggests that the IOC's allocation to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) dipped quite sharply to $14.4 million (£11 million/€12.4 million) in 2016, against $19.3 million (£14.7 million/€16.7 million) a year earlier. This, however, brings it back closer to the sums allocated in 2013 and 2014. There are, moreover, constraints, given that WADA funding is broadly divided half and half between the sports movement and public authorities.

The IOC earmarked $110 million (£84 million/€95 million) during the year for eventual allocation to Olympic Movement organisations; this explains a sharp increase in the year-end balance of these funds to $111.2 million (£85.2 million/€96.4 million) on December 31, 2016, up from $38 million (£29.1 million/€33 million) a year earlier.