ATHENS, Greece The IOC said Wednesday it will start negotiations with the U.S. Olympic Committee on the American share of global Olympic revenues, a festering issue that has strained relations between the two organizations and threatened to damage Chicago's bid for the 2016 Games.
Under a long-standing deal with the International Olympic Committee, the USOC receives nearly 13 percent of U.S. TV rights fees and 20 percent of global marketing revenues totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
IOC president Jacques Rogge said the USOC had submitted unspecified written proposals to resolve the issue.
Negotiations would seek a short-term solution on U.S. financial contributions to games-related costs and a long-term deal for a revised revenue-sharing agreement starting in 2020, Rogge said.
The announcement came a day after influential IOC officials accused the USOC of receiving an "immoral" share of funds and refusing to negotiate a lower cut.
"They have agreed on the principle there would be discussions and to restart the negotiations," said IOC executive board member Denis Oswald, who heads the association of summer Olympic sports federations (ASOIF).
Oswald is part of a three-man IOC negotiating team, along with Mexico's Mario Vazquez Rana, head of the world's national Olympic committees, and IOC marketing commission chief Gerhard Heiberg.
Oswald said the group expects to meet with USOC president Peter Ueberroth either before or during the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics.
Oswald said the first goal is to get the USOC to pay $16-$20 million as a share of games-related costs, including for the World Anti-Doping Agency and Court of Arbitration for Sport. After that, he will seek a "more fair distribution" of overall revenues and a long-term deal for 2020.
The revenue issue, which has been lingering for years, escalated into open conflict in the past few months. It comes when Chicago is bidding to take the Olympics back to the U.S. for the first time since Atlanta in 1996.
Chicago was expected to be among four or five cities making the cut Wednesday when the IOC executive board picks a shortlist of finalists for the games, which will be awarded in October 2009.
Dutch IOC member and ASOIF vice president Hein Verbruggen called the USOC's revenue share an "immoral amount of money compared to what other people get." He said the USOC is expected to receive about $300 million from the 2005-2008 period, and $450 million for 2009-2012.
"We remain ready to meet and discuss these important issues in a fair and transparent manner," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said Tuesday. "This is a time for developing and implementing solutions, not more rhetoric. This is a time for working together, not divisiveness."
When the revenue-sharing deal was negotiated 20 years ago, nearly all the Olympic revenues were generated from the United States. Now, many of the sponsors are non-American and the U.S. TV rights fees account for a smaller percentage. But more than 60 percent of IOC revenue comes from American TV rights and sponsors.