David Owen

Wednesday (September 8) sees the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board assemble for its first post-Tokyo 2020 meeting.

Having paid what I trust will be fulsome tribute to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who did not even wait for the end of the Paralympics to announce he would not seek re-election as his party’s leader, this videoconferenced gathering appears to provide an opportunity for the privileged inner circle to be briefed on the financial picture left behind by Tokyo.

Many will be hoping for some word on the vital question of the sums to be redistributed by the IOC around constituent parts of the Olympic Movement.

The hope, broadly, is that the disruption, and hence additional costs, caused by the pandemic has not eaten too deeply into original expectations of what these payments should amount to.

The news, whenever it comes, should essentially be good: the Games did take place and were streamed/screened worldwide; this means presumably that the bulk of the approximately $3 billion (£2.2 billion/€2.5 billion) in broadcasting revenue the event was expected to generate ought to be secure.

But there are all manner of odds and ends that will need tidying up.

Did the IOC get an insurance payout? If so, was it enough to cover the portion of extra COVID-19-related costs that was borne by Lausanne?

Thanks to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, we know that the one-year postponement of the Games triggered a so-called "Right of Abatement" clause in the IOC’s agreement with NBCUniversal.

This is said to stipulate that "NBC and the IOC shall negotiate in good faith an equitable reduction in the applicable broadcast rights payments".

How much is this likely to cost the IOC, and hence the Movement at large?

On the one hand, the $1.418 billion (£1.03 billion/€1.2 billion) fee reported to have been agreed in 2011 makes this a big deal; on the other, the IOC and NBC are long-term partners, with a strong interest in maintaining amicable relations.

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board will assemble for its first post-Tokyo 2020 meeting tomorrow ©Getty Images
The International Olympic Committee Executive Board will assemble for its first post-Tokyo 2020 meeting tomorrow ©Getty Images

Either way, do the IOC’s agreements with other broadcast partners include similar clauses? Does this need to be factored into the vital redistribution equation?

The pandemic had an even more serious impact on sponsors than broadcasters, since, in addition to the one year’s delay, the Games took place with very few live spectators.

Will they expect some sort of rebate and, if so, how much is that likely to cost?

IOC accounts indicate that members of the IOC’s The Olympic Programme (TOP) worldwide sponsorship scheme have been paying collectively well over $500 million (£363 million/€422 million) per year for the privilege.

Once again, most of these are long-term relationships, which should allow plenty of scope for sponsors to be placated with additional future rights, rather than cash reimbursements.

But what about GE and Dow, who have not extended their TOP memberships beyond Tokyo 2020?

I suppose it could be argued that postponement of the Games meant that their TOP association lasted a year longer than they would originally have bargained - and paid - for.

One presumes, meanwhile, that the IOC’s percentage from the fabulously lucrative Tokyo 2020 local sponsorship programme should come through as anticipated, but of course there will now be nothing from ticket sales.

Finally, some International Federations have already, in effect, received part of their Tokyo 2020 dividends in advance, via a loan programme announced by the IOC last year.

Amounts allocated have included $5 million (£3.6 million/€4.2 million) to the International Cycling Union, $1 million (£726,000/€844,000) to the International Swimming Federation, $3.1 million (£2.25 million/€2.6 million) to World Sailing, around $1.5 million (£1.1 million/€1.27 million) to the International Gymnastics Federation and $3 million (£2.2 million/€2.5 million) to the International Tennis Federation.

How much wiser we outside the magic circle will be about any of this by Wednesday night is anyone’s guess; but it ought not to be long now before the pieces start to slot together.


How sad that the start of Olympics' third Paris countdown should coincide with the death of actor Jean-Paul Belmondo.

The one-time amateur boxer sprang to prominence at the start of the 1960s, in the middle of the last period when the French capital was really "cool".

Legendary French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, centre, has died aged 88 ©Getty Images
Legendary French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, centre, has died aged 88 ©Getty Images

You could argue that it is among the main tasks of Paris 2024, at least from a civic perspective, to make the city cool once again.

Previous French Olympic organisers did not really face this issue.

In 1900, the huge Exposition Universelle ensured that the eyes of the world were drawn irresistibly to Paris, somewhat overshadowing the sports events taking place in the margins.

By 1924, the city on the Seine had become an artistic and cultural magnet of a potency seldom matched anywhere before or since, with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Josephine Baker, Marc Chagall and, of course, Gertrude Stein taking up residence there; it was, in other words, the absolute acme of cool.

A century later, it is far from clear how Paris 2024 might set about trying to restore this status.

Cinema, Belmondo’s milieu, and one of the chief contributors to the city’s cachet in the late 1950s and 1960s, seems more and more an American realm.

Design masterpieces, such as the sleek, futuristic Citroën DS, were a further component; but the commercial imperative of the modern Olympics means that the only cars seen at Paris 2024 will be Toyotas.

Paris is, arguably, the epicentre of the luxury goods industry, which might give organisers something to work with.

The class and wit of the Paris 2024 handover video, shown at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Closing Ceremony, also augurs well.

But it is not going to be an easy trick to pull off and will probably take more than an urban sports complex on Place de la Concorde.