A majority of U.S. Olympic sports organizations have applied for federal loans through the Paycheck Protection Program due to financial strains caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new report.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that at least 70 percent of U.S. Olympic sports organizations have applied for the loans. The AP surveyed 44 national governing bodies — organizations tasked with running national programs for their respective sport from grassroots all the way to the Olympic level — and of the 36 that responded, just four said they didn't apply for the loans.
The organizations, which are overseen by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), said they collectively received roughly $12 million in assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. The loan program was set up as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE signed in late March.
“There’s a very, very real and dire financial situation in sport,” Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the USOPC, told the AP. “And certainly, the sports organizations we work with closely are feeling revenue pain. And it’s immediate.”
The AP noted that the federal money received by the national governing bodies breaks with the longstanding practice of not using American tax dollars to pay for Olympic efforts. In most other countries, Olympic sports federations are propped up and heavily funded by government aid.
In the U.S., the national governing bodies have traditionally been funded through TV fees, sponsorships, donations and revenue generated through programming and memberships. This model, however, took a massive hit after they had to stop daily operations because of the pandemic and the Tokyo Olympics were postponed to next year.
The Tokyo Games were expected to bring in at least $170 million for the USOPC. Now, that revenue isn't expected to come until later.
The USOPC has firmly stated that none of the national governing bodies would be cut in 2020, but has acknowledged that if the Tokyo Games were canceled altogether it would be "devastating."
A recent survey showed that shutdowns between February and June due to COVID-19 would create an across-the-board deficit of $121 million for U.S. Olympics sport organizations, the AP noted.
“We all are exposed, but to be really candid, it’s probably what it should be,” Max Cobb, president of U.S. Biathlon, told the wire service. “We’re all nonprofit organizations. We put all the revenues back into our sports programs. In only a few cases have NGBs [national governing bodies] been able to develop a significant contingency fund.”
U.S. Ski and Snowboard received the most at $2.5 million, while USA Hockey got $2.18 million. USA Swimming received $1.6 million so that it could successfully fulfill payroll obligations.