USOC Delays Olympic Television Network – Boost For Chicago 2016

Chicago 2016 got a boost with the announcement that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) informed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Saturday that they would not be setting up an Olympic television network for now.

The decision came after a meeting between USOC Chairman Larry Probst and IOC President Jacques Rogge. Probst spoke to Rogge in Berlin where he is attending the athletics championships.

The USOC had announced July 6 that they would be setting up a television and cable network devoted to the Olympic Games. AFP reports that announcement was seen to have done damage to Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Games with several IOC members saying they could no longer foresee voting for Chicago.

Probst issued a statement Sunday stating that having held talks with Rogge the idea was shelved for the moment.

Probst said, “yesterday (on Saturday) IOC President Jacques Rogge and I met in Berlin to discuss a number of matters of importance to the Olympic Movement, but primarily the U.S. Olympic Network. The meeting was productive and positive and was an opportunity for me to underscore the USOC’s commitment to working together with him and the IOC.

“We recognized the necessity and importance of finding new ways to grow and develop the Olympic Movement, especially amongst youth. I took the opportunity to stress our commitment to being good partners with the IOC and assured President Rogge that we will secure the full support and cooperation of the IOC before we move forward with the Olympic Network. In order to facilitate a productive dialogue, the USOC has decided to delay further development of the Network until we have resolved all issues of concern to the IOC.

“President Rogge and I agreed to meet again soon and to continue these constructive and mutually beneficial discussions”.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, “it was a good, positive and productive meeting. We look forward to having more detailed information on their proposal”.

Pat Ryan, Chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, issued a statement Sunday on the USOC decision. He said, “we applaud Larry Probst and the USOC for making a strong statement of partnership by stating that the USOC would secure the full support and cooperation of the IOC before moving forward with the Olympic Network. It is important not only for the USOC and IOC relationship, but also for the USOC’s role within the Olympic movement”.

AFP reports a source close to the IOC told them the USOC’s blundering has cost Chicago dearly. “While clearly Chicago is not the USOC and vice versa, some members are blind to the fact and only see it as Americans making trouble and that obviously will have an impact on the vote”, the source said.

But another source, on condition of anonymity, said that the move on Sunday could be seen positively as “an olive branch”.