Could New USOC Network Hamper Chicago 2016?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reportedly upset about the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) announcement Wednesday of its Olympic television network launch with Comcast, despite the IOC’s advice to wait until contractual issues were resolved. The USOC would reportedly reap huge financial benefits should Chicago host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Richard Carrion, IOC Executive Board member, told the Chicago Tribune Wednesday, “I don’t see how this can help,” Chicago’s bid.

According to the newspaper the dispute boils down to what impact the U.S. Olympic Network will have on the “IOC cash cow NBC”, the Olympic network in the United States through 2012, and to a long standing question about marketing rights and use of Olympic marks that 1978 federal legislation granted the USOC.

USOC Chief Operating Officer Norm Bellingham told the Chicago Tribune that Chicago 2016 was not involved in discussions about the Olympic network. He said, “if this damages the (Chicago) bid, it would be deeply unfortunate, and it is in no way our intention. We are not trying necessarily to advance the Chicago bid, but we believe we are trying to advance the Olympic movement in the U.S. territory”.

Olympics historian Kevin Wamsley of the University of Western Ontario said the move is likely to have more direct bearing on the relationship between the USOC and the IOC than on the bid. But he reportedly also thinks if powerful IOC members are angry enough, it could result in behind-the-scenes lobbying against Chicago.

He said, “I’m sure Chicago is horrified. I would be”.

There was no comment from Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky.

University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson said IOC members may be inclined to shun Chicago’s bid if additional controversies pile atop these two. He said, “the IOC just doesn’t want the hassle”.