Ahead of the United States Congress’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package announcement, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee estimated that the country’s 50 national governing bodies (like USA Swimming) could lose a combined $800 million as a result of the numerous major cancellations, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The USOPC asked Congress for $200 million in relief for NGBs (not for the USOPC itself), but sports organizations were not included in the final package that the House of Representatives is due to vote on Friday.
“During this crisis, the USOPC plans to continue to provide resources to the athletes and the NGBs,” an email from the USOPC to lawmakers said. “While an important source of revenue, the USOPC’s resources are not enough to keep the system afloat.”
According to the organization, the cancellation of over 800 events through June would cost the governing bodies a combined $150 million. Individual athletes are estimated to lose up to $25 million, mostly from lost sponsorship opportunities and prize money from canceled events, and $52 million including the postponement of the Games.
“U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sport could be set back for years as a result of this financial damage. Athletes could be forced to retire prematurely. NGBs could be forced to close, leaving affected sports without an organization to provide financial support, leadership and direction to help protect the future of Olympic and Paralympic sport in the U.S.,” the USOPC wrote in the email.
In total, the USOPC estimated that losses among NGBs “could grow to as much as $600-$800 million by August,” because “U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports achieve the greatest revenue generation in years when the Summer and Winter Olympic Games are held.”
USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland told the Wall Street Journal that the numbers are “a little bit imperfect”
“We did a survey of (national governing bodies) and asked the NGBs a couple of questions about what the financial implications of Covid-19 would be to them as a result of all the canceled events and things,” Hirshland said. “And the NGBs in turn gave us what I would describe as a back-of-the-napkin assessment. We rolled up that assessment and sent something to Congress saying, ‘This is going to have significant impacts on the NGBs and we would love to be considered in some of the stimulus package or some of the funding support that you’re offering’…None of that has any consideration at all for the USOPC.”
For the last few years, the USOPC has been wrapped up in sex abuse scandals stemming from its NGBs, including USA Gymnastics and USA Swimming. The USOPC is moving to decertify the former as it faces hundreds of lawsuits based on Dr. Larry Nassar’s abuse, and is also being sued itself but some of his victims.
Ahead of the Olympic postponement announcement, the USOPC had a “very, very comfortable budget” to handle the lawsuits and other financial obligations, Hirshland told the Wall Street Journal.