The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations is ramping up its activities under its new president Franceso Ricci Bitti with the launch of three new specialist groups of experts advising on federation affairs, funded with the help of an increase in international federation revenues from all sources.
The three new groups are: Olympic and multi-sports, chaired by Kelly Fairweather, the chief executive of the FIH, field hockey’s world governing body; Commercial, chaired by a senior representative of Fifa, soccer’s world governing body; and Technology, with the chairman still to be chosen.
The three new groups are in addition to the existing Medical, Legal and Sports development and education groups.
The federations’ revenues include their share of television income from the Olympic Games, which is expected to rise to as much as $475 million from the London 2012 games, $100 million more than originally estimated.
The total figure from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was $296.15 million, which was a $40-million rise on Athens 2004.
However, the rise in federations’ incomes comes not only from their share of IOC revenues but also from other (mainly commercial) sources, according to ASOIF figures showing that the average dependence of its member federations on the IOC payout is actually falling. Despite the huge increase in the IOC revenues from games to games, ASOIF’s figures show that the average dependence on this source of revenues for its 28 members fell from about 40 per cent for the Sydney and Athens games in 2000 and 2004, respectively, to only about 33 per cent for the Beijing games in 2008 (figures are not yet available for London 2012).
The increase in federation revenues has enabled them to help fund the new expert groups. At its general assembly in May the ASOIF members voted, in view of the extra revenues, to give up 1 per cent of their total income over the next Olympic cycle to help fund specific research projects being undertaken by ASOIF. These include ISIS (International Sports Information System), a multi-million-Euro project which aims to create a common data platform for all 28 summer Olympic sports to provide information services (such as results and athlete biographies) to the Olympics and other multi-sport events.
The increase has also enabled ASOIF to take on three new employees, increasing its staff to six including executive director Andrew Ryan. Two of these have already begun work, while an IT manager, to manage the ISIS project, is in the process of being recruited.
Ryan told Sportcal: “This reflects the new president’s view that the role of ASOIF is to do anything that improves the unity of and strengthens the 28 international federations, and also harnesses the expertise and knowledge of the 28 for the good of the group. A key element that was a spur for this, and the reason that some of the big federations are keen to support it, is that, in the past, the amount of money available was too small to be used to help develop the sports, but now the amount of money, from all sources, is much larger.
“The IFs are much wealthier than 10 years ago, so now it’s interesting for the big federations to be working within ASOIF.”
Of the three new groups, the Olympic and multi-sports group has already started working on a memorandum of understanding between the organising committee for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the international federations, and is due to hold its first meeting next week.
The group will also work on developing a common position for ASOIF members with respect to the increasing number of multi-sports games, led by a planned new European Games, the brainchild of Pat Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, to launch in 2015.
ASOIF has already sounded the alarm over the concept, claiming that the international federations, which would have to supply the athletes and officials for the games, have not been properly consulted, and querying whether there is space for the games in an already crowded European sports calendar.
The Commercial group will cover marketing and media issues, but will also have a major input into the ISIS project, which is being led by the IT group, with further input from the Legal group.
Callum Murray - Sportcal