What Would Happen to the Olympics Without US Dollars?
By Evan Weiner
October 2, 2009
10:00 PM EDT
(New York, N. Y.) -- I wonder how many of the International Olympic Committee delegates have ever watched the 1968 movie, The Producers, especially the scene where Max Bialystock is conning Leo Bloom into some creative accounting (the term creative accounting came out of Mel Brooks' wonderful screenplay). Bialystock would find backers to come up with money and then the pair would search for a bad script and produce a Broadway play which is destined to be a flop. Max and Leo would pocket the investors’ money and then flee to Rio. Bialystock croons "Max and Leo in Rio, oh me oh, oh my oh."
Max and Leo would live the good life in Rio. Rio by the sea-o.
Max Bialystock probably had more in common with the International Olympic Committee than his creator Mel Brooks ever could imagine. Like the IOC, Max was deceitful, in the world of bribery, Max was a briber while the IOC delegates of the past had no problem taking bribes and both Max and the IOC, particularly Avery Brundage had dealings with the Third Reich. Max also didn't care about stealing money from his backers, little old ladies, and the IOC doesn't care that its demands left Greece in financial ruins after the 2004 Summer Games and caused financial hardships in Montreal and Quebec and probably will produce disastrous results in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2010, London, England in 2012 and Sochi, Russia in 2014.
The IOC delegates have done President Barack Obama and the United States along with King Carlos of Spain and the new Japanese government a favor by awarding what is sure to be a money losing venture, the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The United States President went to Copenhagen, Denmark where the vote was held along with the leaders of Brazil, Japan and Spain to lobby what is still one of the most corrupt organizations that is in business in the world, the International Olympic Committee. The president has a lot bigger fish on the table like reforming the Health Care system in the U. S., dealing with North Korea, Iran, the Middle East, Russia, the broken economy and high employment and did waste his time on appearing before the delegates.
But the 2005 vote for the 2012 Olympics started a new traditional. Bidding countries sent their leader to genuflect before the IOC. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was there, United States President George W. Bush was not but even if the sitting US President was there it was highly unlikely New York would have won the bid. New York lacked an Olympic Stadium and that killed the bid. Tony Blair’s appearance helped London and having Vladimir Putin lobbying the IOC to award the 2014 to Sochi, Russia didn’t hurt Sochi’s cause.
Spain's King Juan Carlos has about a 20 percent unemployment rate and Rio has a major crime problem and the Japanese economy died in the 1990s and remains a problem. The IOC blissfully ignores the day-to-day realities and goes about making demands such as the host city better have a slush fund to cover operating losses. That is the IOC.
Obama is from Chicago and a President, Prime Minister or a King also is required to sell his country. The IOC, a group that likes American television money and American security to protect their Games, listened and then dumped Chicago in the first round of the playoff voting. Of course the noise crowd led by the never done anything in my life but bark behind a microphone crowd like Rush Limbaugh pronounced Obama a failure which should make the oxycontin dependant carnival barker happy because he wants Obama to fail. On cable TV news, the xenophobic, jingoistic CNN presenter Lou Dobbs had a rather embarrassing discussion with political consultants, columnists, and a newspaper/magazine owner Mort Zuckerman with the gist being whether Obama wasted much needed political capital by going to Copenhagen.
"Mr. Independent" Dobbs was in a tough spot in that he had no knowledge of how the International Olympic Committee operates because had the xenophobic, jingoistic Dobbs understood the process, he would have been extremely happy knowing that the IOC delegates are not pleased with the United States tougher rules since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for entering the country.
Of course the radio talk show noise and the food fighting cable TV news presenters will not address a side issue that will be coming up for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics that does have an impact on American consumers. It appears the Walt Disney Company will make a big push to buy the American TV rights for the two week sports extravaganza for the ESPN cable TV network. There is a real question of who will actually pay for those rights? The TV network or will it be Americans who are totally unaware that their money will go into Rio?
For the pencil-neck geeks, rodeo cowboys and windbags with a microphone, here is the answer. The American public who subscribe to basic expanded cable TV will reach into their pockets, unknowingly, and pay for the Rio Games if Disney wins the bid and gives the IOC billions for the rights. You see, Disney's subsidiary ESPN has lived in a world of Cable TV socialism since 1984 when the Congress allowed various cable TV networks like ESPN, CNN and The Weather Channel to be bundled by cable operators and collect fees as one instead of being bought by consumers on an a la carte basis. The President who signed the legislation into law was Ronald Reagan; the same Reagan who blasted socialized health care in 1961.
Americans like their socialized Cable TV even though they probably are not aware that ESPN is a product of government socialism and a flagrant violation of American antitrust. But thanks to Congress and Reagan, they is no problem.
Will Disney's CEO and President Bob Iger grow a backbone or be a spineless jelly fish when it comes to bidding on the Olympics? The International Olympic Committee was supposed to wrap up the American TV deal for 2014 in Sochi and now 2016 in Rio last year but the broken economy has stalled American TV negotiations. The American TV contract is one of the major sources of revenue for the Olympics. Iger should stiff IOC President Jacques Rogge and his gang and make Rogge find other countries pay for the boondoggle.
If Real Madrid can get more than $105 million euros annually for their football rights globally, then Rogge should be able to get the UK, other Europeans, the Chinese and other Asians to fund his little athletic tournament. Iger should just say no as should NBC CEO and President Jeff Zucker. By 2016, NBC, whoever owns the NBCUniversal entity, will also be pulling money out of cable consumers. Ruppert Murdoch and his global News Corp will not bid on the 2014 and 2016 Games.
If the American TV networks pull their billions from the IOC coffers, what will happen? It would certainly knock the IOC delegates off of their pedestal and it would put the whole Olympic spectacular in a world of major financial hurt. But then again the IOC knows something about financial hurt. Montreal, Sydney, Australia, Athens, Greece, Turin, Italy and the next three sites, Vancouver, B. C., London and Sochi, Russia have and will be saddled with huge financial liabilities because of their dealings with the IOC.
If American TV turned away from the Games, the IOC would crumple. Congress has never really tackled the cable TV problem and give consumers a choice. Why should 90-95 million American cable TV subscribers pick up the bills for Sochi or Rio?
The IOC loves seeing portraits of dead presidents on little green pieces of paper from the US come their way. But they don’t like America.
Here is another Olympics problem.
Does Brazil have the security force that can protect the Games from terrorism? The answer is, of course, not. Guess what military force will be asked to help out? Obama might still be the American President or someone else could be in the Oval Office. No matter, the American show of force will be there. The IOC doesn't particularly like America but the IOC cannot love without US TV dollars and America's protection. Perhaps it is time that Iger and Zucker to not spend other people's money on Rio. Perhaps it is time America's military take a rest and let someone else protect Rio. What would happen to the IOC and the 2016 Rio Olympics? It is a thought that probably frightens IOC head Jacques Rogge and his merry band of IOC delegates.