Olympics: US Olympic Paralympic Committee's financial picture looking grim as it braces for Covid-19 hit

The USOPC 2019 tax return showed it spent US$54 million more than it generated in revenue last year. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The United States Olympic Paralympic Committee (USOPC) opened its books on Monday (Aug 3), offering a bleak 2019 financial picture that is only likely to get worse when the full Covid-19 impact is felt in next year's report.

The USOPC 2019 tax return showed it spent US$54 million (S$74.3 million) more than it generated in revenue last year, which in a non-Olympic year is not alarming.

But with the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games pushed back a year and the uncertainty created by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the financial challenges going forward look daunting.

Some belt tightening is already underway.

The USOPC in May announced it was eliminating 51 jobs and furloughing 33 employees in a bid to reduce expenses by 10-20 per cent over the next four years.

USOPC chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland acknowledged the challenges ahead in a statement accompanying the release of its financial statements and annual tax form.

"We can look at 2019 and be proud of the work we completed, as well as the work we started-together, as we continually seek new ways of structuring and operating," said Hirshland. "As we face the realities of today and uncertainties of tomorrow, we can hold our head high with the knowledge that our focus on serving the remarkable athletes of Team USA will keep us on the right path."

The USOPC and USOPF (US Olympic and Paralympic Foundation) financial statements showed revenues of approximately US$194 million for 2019, down from US$317 million in 2018.

The USOPC pointed out that this is due to the timing of broadcast revenues from NBC, which varies in Games years versus non-Games years.

Expenses were similarly down in a non-Games year at US$248 million from US$275 million in 2018.

Despite a drop in revenue, the USOPC said athlete and national governing body programme funding rose 28 per cent to just over US$30 million from 2018 while support of the US Center for SafeSport more than doubled, going from US$3 million to US$7.5 million.

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