Sports Business : US Olympic body cuts more jobs as budgets slashed by 20%

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) says 51 staff positions will be eliminated as part of “significant” cuts to the organization caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The cost-cutting measures come as USOPC looks to trim up to 20 per cent from its budget through the 2024 Paris Games to make up for shortfalls caused by coronavirus, as reported by Associated Press. The organization’s four-year budget is around $1bn, meaning there could be cuts of up to $200m.

The situation could be worsened if the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, now set for 2021, is canceled entirely, which remains a possibility. Sponsorship revenues will be diluted in the coming years due to the financial impact of the public health crisis. To combat this, USOPC and US Olympic and Paralympic Properties (USOPP), the entity charged with marketing and selling combined commercial assets after Tokyo 2020 up to Los Angeles 2028, has offered commercial partners the option to extend for no extra charge until after the games in 2021.

The latest job reductions, combined with more than 30 employees who accepted offers for voluntary redundancy, will result in a staff of around 500 being reduced by one-fifth.

“I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of this change,” said USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland. “It has become clear that it will take months, and not weeks, for us to return to full operation, particularly at our training centres in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid.”

Hirshland has already taken a 20 per cent salary reduction through the end of the year, while other executives have taken 10 per cent pay cuts.

USPOC operates, funds Olympic training centers for US Olympic Athletes

Olympic training centres across the US offer housing and training for hundreds of athletes, with many having their full-time training facilities based at the centres. The USOPC brought in $172 million in broadcast rights after the Rio 2016 Olympics, and it is due to receive a larger amount if the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympics take place in 2021. A similar move took place at the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) last month, with its chief executive John Coates taking a 20 per cent pay cut, followed by all the members of the AOC’s senior management team.