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Olympic sports bodies to talk with IOC over 2028 LA games possible cuts

GENEVA –

Olympic sports bodies want urgent talks with the IOC about possible cuts in their revenue shares and athlete quotas at the 2028 Los Angeles Games because cricket and other newcomers were added to the program.

The International Olympic Committee last month approved cricket, baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash for 2028 and kept boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting — three sports whose status had been in doubt.

The umbrella group of current Summer Games sports, known by the acronym ASOIF, said Monday the decision to increase to a record 36 sports “has raised several questions” among its members, who collectively shared US$540 million of IOC-allocated money at each of the past two Olympics.

Most Olympic sports got US$13 million to US$17.3 million from the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021. For some, that was about half of their total income over four years.

Adding four team sports in 2028 also will push the IOC to extend its preferred limit of 10,500 athletes at a Summer Games and likely will put pressure on the core Olympic sports to cut their allowed number of athletes. The IOC has set a target of early 2025 to confirm final quotas.

ASOIF’s ruling council agreed Monday “to raise these urgent matters with the IOC leadership” after meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The council includes the presidents of World Athletics and the International Gymnastics Federation, two of the three top-tier Olympic sports. The third is aquatics.

Track and field got US$38.5 million after the Tokyo Games, while gymnastics and swimming each got about US$31.4 million of the IOC’s total revenue from broadcasters and sponsors of US$7.6 billion from 2017-21. Adding cricket is expected to raise the IOC’s broadcast deal in India by at least US$100 million.

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Key issues for Olympic sports as the games keep expanding are “revenue share, athlete quotas, Olympic qualification systems and games optimization,” ASOIF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said. Optimization is the current Olympic buzzword for trimming costs and services to help organizers control spending.

“These are the issues that hugely impact (international federation) operations and have far-reaching effects on the entire Olympic movement,” Ricci Bitti said in a statement.

In a scheduled speech later Monday in Lausanne, IOC President Thomas Bach told sports officials he was “well aware” of their concerns about the LA program.

“I would like to reiterate that the federations of the new sports proposed by the (Los Angeles) organizing committee do not have to be included in the ASOIF revenue sharing model,” Bach told them.

The IOC is not due to confirm the total revenue-sharing funds from the 2024 Paris Olympics until late next year.

“We should always know that these new sports on the Olympic program for LA will only add to the overall value of the Olympic Games — and from this added value we all will benefit,” Bach said.

With Russia planning to stage a World Friendship Games weeks after the closing ceremony in Paris, ASOIF cautioned its members Monday about their involvement in a potential rival to the Olympics. Moscow and Yekaterinburg are set to host the games in September.

The Russian multi-sport event “is not conducive to dialogue within the sports world during these challenging times,” ASOIF said.

The Russian Olympic Committee remains suspended by the IOC but individuals can still be invited by some sports to compete as neutral athletes in international events if they don’t publicly support the war in Ukraine and don’t have ties to the military or state security agencies.

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