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Chicago financial bump for U.S. Olympic sports? No surprise

June 26, 2009 |  5:25 pm

Logan EUGENE, Ore. -- It is hardly a surprise that the boss of any U.S. federation governing an Olympic sport would be "actively advocating'' for Chicago to become host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, as USA Track & Field chief executive Doug Logan said Friday he was doing.

After all, an Olympics in the United States always generates higher sponsorship and TV rights revenue for the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the individual federations see some of that increase in their grant allotments from the USOC.

And the sports also find it easier to attract their own sponsorships if the Games are in the United States, which Logan made clear when he also said that USATF's new deal with Nike would include a "significant increase'' if Chicago gets the Games.

The new Nike-USATF deal goes only through 2013, but includes an option to renew through 2017.

The Associated Press, citing sources familiar with the contract, said it is worth more than $10 million a year.  And the AP story suggested the idea of an increase based on a Chicago win could rub the International Olympic Committee the same -- and wrong -- way as the comments made by a McDonald's executive who said the company would be more likely to continue its global IOC sponsorship if Chicago is chosen.

The situations are not the same.

IOC ethics rules forbid its global sponsors from trying to influence host city elections, as McDonald's made clear in a statement disassociating the company from what one of its senior vice-presidents had said.

And Nike is not a global IOC sponsor.  It sponsors national teams in several countries, including Brazil's soccer team, the Japanese junior track teams and USA Track & Field.

The Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo bids proudly trumpet their corporate sponsors -- including sporting goods companies.  (Chicago 2016 has chosen not to publicize its corporate sponsors for reasons it never has made entirely clear, saying that it is up to the donor corporations to identify themselves as such). 

Is anyone naive enough to think those bid sponsors won't be inclined to increase their support for a domestic Olympics?

That is how the refreshingly candid Logan sees the Nike bump for a Chicago victory.

"The partnership simply recognizes added value in the event of a domestic (Olympic) competition,'' Logan told me in a text message.  "You cannot avoid reality.  We are certainly not going to attempt to unduly influence anyone.''

Nike spokesman Derek Kent declined to comment on issues related to an increase based on Chicago winning.

"We have a longstanding deep relationship with (USA Track & Field),'' Kent said in an email.  "As today's announcement indicates, the partnership continues to be very strong now and in the future.

"No matter where the 2016 games are held, we will have a stong presence on the track with footwear and apparel on the world's best athletes.''

One IOC member who undoubtedly is thrilled that U.S. track will get continued Nike support is international track federation president Lamine Diack of Senegal.  Diack understands what a strong U.S. track team is worth to Olympic competition. 

If Team USA gets stronger, that is value added.

To Nike, USA Track and Field and whoever is the 2016 Olympic host.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Doug Logan. Credit: Courtesy USA Track & Field