Rene Fasel

NHL: Agenda 2020, drop dead


Agenda 2020, International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach's would-be reform proposal, holds 40 points. The IOC members passed all 40, unanimously, in December 2014. Some two and a half years later, with the exception of the launch of the Olympic Channel, Agenda 2020 has proven a lot of aspirational talk and not much else. The NHL's decision to walk away from the 2018 Winter Games offers potent new evidence of the obvious irrelevance with which it views Agenda 2020 and, by extension, the larger Olympic enterprise. There can be no other conclusion. If Agenda 2020 held the power to effect meaningful change, what would the NHL choose when weighing this essential question: is hockey a brand or a sport?

Aspirational talk is swell. But the real world demands far more. And the NHL's move underscores the largely empty gesture that Agenda 2020 is well on its way to becoming.

Most of the focus on Agenda 2020 package has been on the points dealing with the bid-city process. That's understandable. That process needs a wholesale makeover. The 2022 Winter Games race ended with just two cities and now the same for 2024, Paris and Los Angeles.

It's simply not clear whether any of those Agenda 2020 bid-city proposals can ever be meaningful.

Or, for that matter, the rest of the Agenda 2020 package.

Last week, the NHL announced that decision not to take part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Assuming no change, that ends a run of five consecutive Winter Games with NHL players.

Now, to Agenda 2020, and Recommendation 8. Here it is, word for word:

"Forge relationships with professional leagues

"Invest in and forge relationships with professional leagues and structures via the respective international federations with the aim of:

"• Ensuring participation by the best athletes

"• Recognizing the different nature and constraints of each of the professional leagues

"• Adopting the most appropriate collaboration model on an ad-hoc basis in cooperation with each relevant international federation."

How would the reasonable person say that's working out?


The Oslo 2022 conundrum

The International Olympic Committee finds itself early this week in Oslo in a conundrum of its own making. On the one hand, it is assuredly the IOC’s responsibility to encourage strong bids to come forward. Thus Oslo 2022. On the other, in politics – even, perhaps especially, sports politics – perceptions can matter as much as reality. Thus, again, Oslo 2022.

A high-powered IOC delegation, led by the president himself, Thomas Bach, visits Norway Monday and Tuesday for a series of meetings revolving primarily – there are other sessions – around preparations for the 2016 Winter Youth Games in Lillehammer.

Norway's Anette Sagen during a 2013 FIS World Cup ski jump event at the famed Holmenkollen venue // photo Getty Images

The timing comes at a fraught juncture for the Oslo 2022 bid, which all involved are keenly aware.

Thus the dilemma:

Is this good for the IOC? For Oslo 2022? Or, owing to layers of complexities, is this trip ultimately not likely to prove helpful for an Oslo 2022 campaign?

To set the stage:

The IOC agreed to these series of meetings in Norway weeks if not months ago.

As the longtime Olympic British journalist David Miller spelled out in the newsletter Sport Intern in a column published Saturday, the two-day itinerary begins Monday with meetings at the Olympic Sports Center and the Norwegian School of Sports Science.

The IOC president is due thereafter to take lunch with Norway’s King Harald at the Royal Castle along with Norway IOC member, Gerhard Heiberg. After that, Miller reports, the IOC delegation – which includes the likes of senior IOC member Ser Miang Ng, who is the new finance commission chair as well as Singapore’s ambassador to Norway for many years, and Angela Ruggiero, chair of the Lillehammer 2016 coordination commission – is due to “exchange ideas” with Norway’s culture minister, Thorhild Wedvey, and Oslo’s mayor, Stian Berger Rosland.

More meetings Monday are due to follow, with three NGOs, with four labor groups and, finally, with members of parliament.

On Tuesday, the scene shifts to Lillehammer itself, Miller reports, for a series of meetings, including with Ottavio Cinquanta (head of the skating federation), Rene Fasel (hockey federation chief) and Gian-Franco Kasper (ski and snowboard federation No. 1).

Also due to be on-hand from the IOC side, according to Miller: the outgoing Olympic Games executive director, Gilbert Felli, and the IOC director general, Christophe de Kepper.


Assuming, indeed, that everyone shows up -- that is some serious IOC star power.

A bit more background:

There are five applicant cities in the 2022 bid race: Oslo; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing; Lviv, Ukraine; and Krakow, Poland.

It’s not clear Krakow will make it past a May 25 referendum.

Lviv, of course, is struggling with enormous turbulence in the eastern part of the country. The IOC last week gave Ukraine’s national Olympic committee $300,000 just so its athletes could make it to training camps and meets this year.

The IOC’s policy-making executive board is due in early July to decide which of the five “applicants” will become “candidate” finalists. The IOC will pick the 2022 winner in July, 2015.

Almaty and Beijing would seem to be shoo-ins. They are both, of course, from Asia.

So who is going to make it from Europe?

It’s not exactly a secret that Norwegians love winter sports, indeed the Winter Games. The 1994 Lillehammer Games are often cited as the “best-ever.” Norway leads the overall Winter Games medal count, with 329, and the gold count, too, with 118 (the U.S. is second in both categories, 282 and 96).

The athlete who has won the most Winter Games medals? Biathlon king Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway, the new IOC member, with 13. He won two gold medals in Sochi in February -- just a couple weeks after turning 40.

Next? Cross-country ski god Bjorn Daehlie of Norway, with 12, eight gold.

Next, three athletes, one of whom is female Norwegian cross-country ski legend Marit Bjorgen, with 10 Olympic medals, six gold. In Sochi, age 33, she won three gold medals, among them the grueling 30-kilometer event.

Look, any Oslo bid for the Games would understandably be taken very seriously. For obvious reasons.

Two weeks ago, however, one of two Norwegian government parties voted against supporting Oslo’s 2022 bid. At issue now is whether the government will offer the needed financial guarantees.

The imperative – at least for now – is that the IOC would seem to need Oslo for the 2022 race more than Oslo needs the Winter Games. That is the box. And everyone in Olympic circles knows it.

At the same time, while Norwegians may love the Winter Games, it’s pretty clear there are some strong feelings about the bid, and they may be directly tied to the IOC. And those feelings may not be so positive.

A new poll conducted by the research firm Norstat for NRK, the Norwegian Broadcast Corporation, suggests that 60 percent of the Norwegian public is against an Oslo 2022 bid – with only 35 percent in favor.

“No, it is a considerable skepticism, and I think a lot of the information that has been around the IOC has increased that skepticism,” Christian Democratic Party leader Knut Arild Hareide said.

Bach has been in office for about nine months. He has shown an inclination to lead in a style that evokes some of the ways of Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC president from 1980-2001, who understood – appropriately – that the IOC is not just a sports institution but one that moves with nation-states and with influential political leaders.

Thus, for instance, the lunch with the Norwegian king as well as the exchanges with, for instance, the culture minister.

Too, Bach is possessed – this is meant to be a compliment – of first-rate confidence. You have to have such confidence to direct the IOC, a global institution with a multibillion-dollar budget. By definition, the position lends itself to high-pressure decision making. Bach took a decision to have this two-day meeting, and it is on.

He is also riding a wave of can-do. Sochi is in the rear-view mirror. The IOC and NBC just struck a $7.75 billion deal through 2032.

Even so, does the IOC president himself need to assess what’s going on in Lillehammer with regard to the 2016 Youth Games, when those Games are nearly two years away -- Feb. 12-21, 2016 -- and, besides, it’s well-known the Youth Games are way down the IOC priority list?

For this purpose, doesn’t he already have a coordination commission? And the chair of that commission is, you know, in Norway for this trip?

If this trip were just about Lillehammer, why meet with the mayor of Oslo?

It is also the case that the Norwegians doubtlessly would have some interesting – perhaps even some constructively provocative – ideas to offer regarding Olympic Agenda 2020, the far-reaching IOC study program the IOC president has launched that is now working its way toward the all-members session in Monaco in December. That would explain the sessions with the NGOs and the other Monday afternoon meetings, for instance.

But are the Norwegians the only ones in the entire world with suggestions so potentially clever that the president has to hear them in person?

And, this, coincidentally enough, before the July meeting at which the 2022 applicants are going to be passed through?

Earlier this year – the deadline was April 15 – the IOC took email submissions from anyone, anywhere who wanted to weigh in relating to Olympic Agenda 2020. Yet the Norwegians get an in-person audience with the IOC president himself?

Over the years, the IOC has gone to great – some would say extraordinary – lengths, particularly in the aftermath of the late 1990s Salt Lake City scandal, to keep its distance from anything that sniffed of even the hint of the appearance of conflict of interest in the bid cycle.

For instance, the IOC would not entertain sponsorship discussions from the Russian concern Gazprom while Sochi was bidding for the 2014 Games. Similarly, when Doha was trying, it would not entertain an approach from Qatar Airways even between bid cycles.

No one has suggested misconduct or wrongdoing in the slightest by either the Norwegians or the IOC. To repeat: nobody has said anybody is doing anything wrong.

And nobody is likely to.

The only people who would be likely to complain would be rival bid teams, in this instance most likely Almaty or Beijing.

How do you think it is going to go over when they read that the IOC president is in Oslo, and before the July executive board pass-through meeting?

If you were them, how would you react?

In private?

Now – what would you do about it?


Isn’t this, too, the dilemma?


A stealth Olympic summit

The International Olympic Committee held something of a stealth meeting of key power-brokers Sunday at its lakefront headquarters in  Lausanne, Switzerland, a move that illuminates the who's who and what's what behind the developing agenda of the recently elected president, Germany's Thomas Bach. Bach convened the meeting, not widely publicized beforehand and in an IOC release termed an "Olympic Summit," to address "the main topics of interest and concern" confronting the movement.

These the statement identified as the campaigns against doping and match-fixing, regulation of the sports calendar, autonomy of the sports movement and, finally, governance issues.

The scene Sunday at the IOC "summit" // photo courtesy of IOC/Richard Juilliart

Here, then, is a catalogue of how the new president intends to operate, his key list of action items and, perhaps most fascinatingly, a collection of advisers -- a kitchen cabinet, if you will -- that the release identified as "the senior representatives of the Olympic Movement's key stakeholders."

Like any list, it's not just who is on it but who is not that makes for the tell.

Among those who were there:

The three IOC vice presidents: Craig Reedie of Great Britain; Nawal el Moutawakel of Morocco; John Coates of Australia.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait, of course. Marius Vizer, the International Judo Federation and Sport Accord president, naturally. Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president. C.K. Wu, the head of the international boxing federation.

In May, the aquatics and gymnastics federations were elevated to the top tier of Olympic revenues, joining the track and field federation, the IAAF. The IAAF president, Lamine Diack of Senegal, was there Sunday; so was Julio Maglione of Urugay, president of FINA, the aquatics federation. The gymnastics federation president, Italy's Bruno Grandi? No.

The entire winter sports scene was represented solely by René Fasel, president of both the ice hockey and winter sports federations.

More: the heads of the national Olympic committees of the United States, China and Russia were invited to the meeting. But -- not France. Hello, Paris 2024?

Beyond that, the important take-aways from the meeting are these:

Reasonable people can quibble with the notion of whether doping, match-fixing, the calendar, autonomy and governance make for the spectrum of pressing issues facing the movement.

The new president, for instance, is keenly aware that the Olympic Games are the IOC's franchise and that keeping the franchise relevant to young people has to be the IOC's No. 1 priority. Nowhere on that list, moreover, is an exploration of the values central to the Olympic movement and how they might, should or do play out in today's world.

The president "invited the participants to share their ideas on these subjects," and a wide range of others, "and to be part of the permanent dialogue and ongoing reflection that the IOC wishes to increase with its main stakeholders," according to the release.

Bach is super-smart. He understands concepts such as "relevance" and "values." For sure.

But the action-item catalogue clearly and unequivocally demonstrates -- as Bach suggested during the presidential campaign, which ended with his election Sept. 10 in Buenos Aires -- that his focus is in problem-solving.

That means: solving the problems, or at least trying to, that are there, directly and identifiably, in front of him and the IOC.

Look at what the release says:

-- The IOC will set up a task force to coordinate efforts against match-fixing and illegal betting.

-- The participants agreed to set up an "experts' network" that will focus on issues of autonomy and governance.

-- The IOC will set up a "consultative working group" to deal with the calendar.

This calendar group, and it should be highlighted that this panel will be "under the leadership of the IOC," obviously has two unspoken priorities:

One, for those thinking long-range, is the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and whether -- as FIFA has been mulling, or not -- it can or should be moved to the winter. Such a move could well be problematic for a 2022 Winter Olympics. The IOC statement Sunday noted that the working group will discuss "the priority of current and future sports events within the global calendar."

Two, there's Vizer's suggestion, made when he was running last spring for SportAccord president, for a "Unified World Championships" that would feature 90-plus sports all going on at the same time. The group Sunday, Vizer included, the IOC statement said, agreed that "any new initiative has to respect the uniqueness of the Olympic Games."

Then there is the campaign against doping.

The release affirms the movement's "zero-tolerance" policy against drug cheats and backs the IOC's candidate for the presidency of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Reedie, who is expected to be affirmed at a meeting this month in South Africa. At the same time, it calls for WADA to become more of a "service organization," reflecting tensions with some international sports federations, who have suggested that the agency has been telling them what to do instead of serving their needs.

Whether this proves, in the long run, to actually be a good thing or not, and whether it actually gets played out, particularly with such real-world challenges such as the testing of Jamaican and Kenyan athletes now making headlines, remains to be seen.

Reedie, it should be noted, has consistently proven himself to be a shrewd player in sports politics across many constellations.

In the near term, meanwhile, all this shows conclusively that Bach is not only consolidating but demonstrating his own authority while simultaneously showing if not a bent, then at least a nod, toward collaboration.

It's of course absolutely a good thing that Bach seek the input of key constituent groups. In about a month, he will lead not only an executive board meeting in Lausanne but immediately afterward an EB retreat. Of course, how the EB and this new kitchen cabinet will mesh -- there is some overlap -- remains to be seen.

At the same time, as Jacques Rogge before him and Juan Antonio Samaranch before that proved, while the IOC is something of a democracy, the institution has traditionally functioned best when the president demonstrates a clear and decisive hand.

It took Rogge some time to figure this out. He made a show at the beginning of his first term of wanting the IOC to be far more democratic. The 2002 Mexico City session, which devolved into hours upon hours of democracy -- the members voicing all manner of opinion about baseball, softball and modern pentathlon, and their roles in the program, with nothing getting done -- put an end to that. After that, he started acting way more presidential.

Bach, it appears, gets from the start that he is the man. That's the way it should be.

One other thing that is notable is that the IOC, at the end of this one-day summit, had this multi-point action plan more or less ready to go. Anyone who has done committee work knows that committees don't do action work readily or easily. So this was already well in the works -- the deal points already hammered out, apparently via pre-meetings -- well before the new president summoned all "the senior representatives" to Lausanne for the face-to-face summit that produced the news release.

Note, by the way, the careful use of language. These were not "some senior representatives." The release pointedly makes use of the definite article, the word "the," before "senior representatives." The new president is by nature precise -- that's how that list of people got invited Sunday.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is called leadership.


Challenges await IOC's next president

Regular readers of this space know I now have the privilege of teaching at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism in Los Angeles. One of the things about being a university professor -- my formal title, by the way, is "lecturer" -- is that for each class they make you write a syllabus. It's not easy. You have to read a lot of books to decide which books you want to use in your class.

Before heading off this week to cover the U.S. Olympic Trials in track and field and then swimming, I have been at work drafting the syllabus for a graduate-school spring 2013 course tentatively entitled "Sports and Society." A book I've run across, and like, comes from two Australian professors, Kristine Toohey and A.J. Veal, "The Olympic Games: A Social Science Perspective," because it not only provides a broad sketch of the movement but also provides excellent context for the issues likely to confront the next IOC president.

This week, it's true, the IOC seems wholly enmeshed in a black-market ticket scandal. But that is temporal. As the book makes plain, the ticket issue will -- like many others -- be confronted, and the IOC will move on.

The IOC has been in existence since 1894. In all those years, remarkably, it has had but eight presidents.

I have been covering the IOC since late 1998. I have known but two presidents: Juan Antonio Samaranch, who held the job from 1980 until 2001, and Jacques Rogge, who has been president since.

Rogge will, by term limit, step down in September 2013. The IOC will elect his successor at a regularly called election at its annual convention, called a session. The location of the session rotates around the world; this session will be held in Buenos Aires.

In about a month, when the IOC gathers in London for the Games, the world will watch Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps and the others who will make the XXX Olympiad what it will be for the history books. The IOC will hold a session in London as well and the members will stay on for the Games. Rest assured: the politicking, looking ahead to Buenos Aires, will be just as intriguing.

The list of potential candidates for the presidency is unannounced but fairly obvious. It's a once-every-12-years-opportunity, and the maneuvering has been going on for months now, if not years.

In alphabetical order, and it's important to note that being interested in running does not necessarily mean electable: Thomas Bach of Germany; Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico; Anita DeFrantz of the United States; Rene Fasel of Switzerland; Ser Miang Ng of Singapore; Denis Oswald of Switzerland. There may yet be others.

No Asian candidate has ever been elected IOC president; indeed, with the exception of Avery Brundage, the American who served from 1952-72, every IOC president has been European. Soft-spoken, well-connected, diplomatic, Ng oversaw the enormously successful 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games.

Carrion moves fluidly and fluently between the worlds of business and sports, in Spanish, English and, increasingly, French. In a world buffeted by economic crisis, the IOC has not only weathered the storm but is positioned strategically, thanks in significant measure to Carrion, its banker, a key player in the $4.38 billion rights negotiation with NBC through 2020, and other deals.

Bach comes from an Olympic background; he is a gold-medalist (fencing, 1976). He is a national Olympic committee president (Germany). He has done it all in a long and distinguished career that includes ties to business, law and the Olympics.

The IOC is always about personalities and relationships. One wonders, however, if at some level the 2013 presidential election has to be as much about the issues confronting the movement -- this is why the book is so interesting as background -- and whether the personalities of the potential contenders are best-suited to dealing with those issues.

An explanation:

There are always recurring issues in the IOC scene. For instance -- stadium elephants.

That said, certain issues emerge at particular elections as defining issues in the moment.

In 2001, when Rogge was elected, succeeding Samaranch, the issues confronting the IOC were very different from now.

When the IOC convened for that 2001 session in Moscow, the events preceding and enveloping  that election were largely based on transparency and the dispersion of power.

Rogge won in the wake of the 1998 corruption scandal in Salt Lake City, which then prompted a 1999 50-point IOC reform plan, and in the aftermath of a number of doping scandals, in particular at the 1998 Tour de France, which helped create the World Anti-Doping Agency.


The challenges are not internal but external.

That is, the next president must be prepared to deal with events that come at him (or her) not from an internal sphere (doping, member corruption) but, indeed, from the outside world.

Indeed, the context and speed at which world events are happening is perhaps the No. 1 challenge to the movement.

Just to rattle off a few items: the global recession and euro sovereign debt crisis, the geographical expansion of the Games (2014 Sochi, 2016 Rio, 2018 Pyeongchang, bids for 2020 from Doha and Baku), the growing threat of illegal sports betting.

It is absolutely true that under Rogge the IOC has seen its financial reserves grow from $105 million in 2001 to $592 million in 2010. The IOC is well-positioned to weather one four-year downturn. This largely unheralded, and under-appreciated, development may be one of Rogge's shrewdest plays as president.

The obvious big-picture question is -- what next?

How much debt, for instance, can you throw at the Olympic scene before something goes amiss? How many countries can keep picking up the tab? Was the decision by the Italian government earlier this year not to push Rome forward for the 2020 Games, citing the ongoing European financial crisis, a signal of things to come -- or was it just an aberration?

Eventually, and most likely during the 12 years of this next presidency, some very hard decisions are going to have to be made, and that will have repercussions for everyone, including the Olympic movement.

A corollary:

It would seem readily apparent that the size and expansion of the movement demand greater partnerships. There are bigger opportunities out there. But also bigger potential pitfalls.

Again, any IOC election is at its core about relationships. But this one has to be about more than schmoozing. There's too much at stake for the members to be looking for more than just comfort. The world we live in can often be not a comfortable place.

"Hello, partner": USOC, IOC resolve financial differences

QUEBEC CITY, Canada -- It was about an hour after the U.S. Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee had announced they had signed the agreement that had ended seven years of talks over how to split certain key revenues, and USOC board chairman Larry Probst was standing in the hall of the sprawling convention center here when up came Thomas Bach. An IOC vice president, the president of the German Olympic committee, Bach is one of the most influential senior officials in the movement.

As he approached Probst, Bach had a big smile on his face. He said, simply, "Hello, partner."

Such a remark would have been literally unthinkable a few years ago -- as recently as October, 2009, when Chicago was unceremoniously booted out of the voting in Copenhagen for the 2016 Summer Games, won by Rio de Janeiro.

But not Friday. Bach wasn't the only one seeking out Probst and, as well, Scott Blackmun, the chief executive of the USOC. Here was Rene Fasel, the Swiss president of the international ice hockey federation, sliding up to Probst to talk up the Stanley Cup finals and to inquire whether Probst -- who lives in Northern California -- might be around because Fasel was for sure going to be down in L.A. to catch the Kings.

It has been said many times before when explaining the way the Olympic movement really works but on the occasion of the deal signed Friday that re-arranged the financial ties between the USOC and IOC it bears repeating: relationships are everything.

The USOC and IOC jointly announced Friday that they had signed a new revenue sharing agreement between them that runs from 2020 until 2040.

The deal resolves a longstanding dispute over the USOC's share of television and marketing revenues that had undermined the American committee's standing in the Olympic movement and played a key role in sinking Chicago's 2016 and New York's 2012 bids.

Now the USOC will weigh whether to bid for the 2022 Winter or 2024 Summer Games.

New York and San Francisco would seem to top 2024 possibilities, with Chicago of course under consideration as well, maybe even Los Angeles. Though Dallas and Houston have floated interest, there's little to no suggestion they can win internationally.

Denver, Reno-Tahoe, Salt Lake City and Bozeman, Mont., have indicated 2022 interest.

There are arguments to be made for 2022 or 2024. That said, it's plain the Summer Games are, and always have been, the IOC's big prize.

The USOC board intends to meet next month in the Bay Area, and the bid game figures to be a big topic. "Our strategy is to develop a strategy at this point," chief executive Scott Blackmun said at the  news conference announcing the revenue deal.

Rogge was at that conference, too. He said, "This is a very happy moment for the IOC as well as for the USOC. This agreement will definitely strengthen both sides."

The genesis of Friday's announcement is a deal that was signed in 1996 designed to run for -- honestly -- forever. It gives the USOC a 12.75 percent share of U.S. broadcast revenues and a 20 percent cut of Olympic top-tier marketing revenues. Over time, key IOC officials came to believe the USOC share was excessive. That led first to resentment and then outright hostility.

Talks aimed at striking a new deal began in 2005.

In reality, this deal started on Oct. 3, 2009, the day after Chicago got smacked down in Copenhagen, and Probst was left to figure out how the situation had gotten this bad, why no one on the American side had seen a first-round exit and, maybe worst of all, why the president of the United States had been invited to stump for Chicago in person, President Obama's hometown, only to have the IOC reward the Americans with a mere 18 votes. Four years before, New York had gotten 19.

Probst vowed to become more engaged, and did. He hired Blackmun. The two said they would work at the relationship thing. They did. Big-time. They traveled the world. They didn't ask for anything special. They played it humble and low-key and said the USOC was simply trying to be one NOC among many, just another member of the Olympic family.

It took some time, naturally, for Blackmun and Christophe de Kepper, now the IOC director-general, to get to know and trust each other. They emerged as the point people on the deal, which essentially got done in a marathon session in recent days.

The deal essentially features three component parts:

- The USOC will pay a share of what's called Games costs;

- The USOC will take a lower share of incremental revenues for top-tier marketing revenues, 10 percent, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the figure.

- Same for TV, 7 percent, according to AP.

A working example:

Let's say the baseline television revenues for the four-year Olympic period, which in Games-speak is called a quadrennium, are $250 million. Let's also say inflation bumps that up to $270 million. The USOC will take its usual 12.75 percent share up to that $270 million. That would equal $34.425 million.

If, however, revenues for the quad actually end up being $300 million, the USOC will take that lower percentage, 7 percent, of the difference, the $30 million. That would equal $2.1 million.

Total (again, these numbers are totally made up): $36.525 million.

What isn't made up is that NBC paid $4.38 billion to broadcast the Games from 2014 to 2020. The USOC gets 12.75 percent of that. Do the math.

This is critically important to understand: the USOC is the only Olympic committee in the world that is self-sufficient. Everywhere else, the Olympic committee gets government funding. Not the USOC. Through the 1978 law that set it up, Congress said the USOC must be self-sufficient. That's why the USOC can't -- and couldn't -- give up its broadcast or marketing revenues.

Philosophically, the IOC understood all along that the USOC is a leading contributor to the Olympic scene. It also understood that NBC agreed to pay $4.38 billion in part because the U.S. team wins a boatload of medals and because the likes of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte and Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White plant viewers in front of television screens. That's inarguable.

At the same time, the IOC might now go about and make deals in emerging market -- China, India, Brazil. It's fair for the USOC to give on those deals.

The obvious question: why did it take seven years to get to Friday?

Because Probst and Blackmun inherited ill will and, as Blackmun put it, "It's all about relationships, and you can't build relationships overnight."

Probst on Friday recalled his first meeting with Puerto Rico's Richard Carrion, who along with Gerhard Heiberg of Norway and de Kepper formed the IOC's negotiating team. This was at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. "More of a lecture," Probst said, laughing, saying that since then he and Carrion -- and their wives -- have become genuine friends: "It's all about friendship, partnership, relationship."

"In Copenhagen," Probst said, "I was a deer in the headlights. Things have changed."

In Copenhagen, many of the words directed at and about the Americans were unpleasant. Things have changed.

Another IOC vice president, Singapore's Ser Miang Ng, called Friday's announcement a "historic moment," saying it was the "start of a new relationship between the USOC and the Olympic family, not only the financial aspect but the goodwill it is creating and the opportunities it is creating for everybody."

Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer who is on the 15-person IOC executive board, declared, "It's very important. It was our wish that the USOC comes back as a full member of the family and understands they have to be a part of it. I think it's a good solution."

"It's a real milestone," Bach said.

"It's a win-win situation. For everybody. For the IOC, for the USOC, for everybody. It's a great success for Jacques Rogge," Bach said, adding a moment later, "For him personally, it's a great day. Now the way is free for many things."

Angela Ruggiero's classy - of course - transition

This past February, after a long day tromping around Pyeongchang, assessing the South Korea city's chances of hosting the 2018 Winter Games, Angela Ruggiero made her way to the hotel gym for a killer workout. I know, because I was already there, on the treadmill, putting in my miles. For the next hour, while the Olympic athlete put herself through this grueling workout, and the sportswriter trudged along, we talked about how hard it was to stay in shape on the road.

By that point last winter, Angela -- winner of four Olympic medals, elected after the Vancouver Games to a spot on the International Olympic Committee as a member of its athletes' commission -- had been living out of a suitcase for about 100 days on Olympic-related business.

To know Angela is to know that she doesn't do anything half-hearted. She's all in. Which explains why she announced Wednesday that her playing days are over.

Understand -- she doubtlessly could have made the USA women's team that will play at the Sochi 2014 Games, and will probably challenge there for the gold medal.

But to do what she is being asked to do now, to be the athlete's voice in forums around the world, demands her "complete heart and dedication," as she put it in a call Thursday with reporters.

It's just time to move on, she said, with the class and grace that has always marked her way in these sorts of things.

Sometimes these things can be complicated. But when you look at it the way Angela did, and you handle it the way she did -- really, it's easy.

Angela made the effort Wednesday to travel to the team camp in Minnesota to tell her teammates the news before it became public.

She played more games in a Team USA sweater than anyone else -- 256. She finished her international career with 208 points, with 67 goals and 141 assists. She won the four Olympic medals, one gold, in 1998, when she was the youngest player on the team -- and said Thursday it was probably her defining moment because being on top of the podium is "the pinnacle of our sport."

Angela played for the United States in 10 women's world championships, winning four; in 2005, she scored the winning shootout goal.

She was an all-American in all four of her seasons at Harvard. As a senior in 2004, she won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the top player in Division I women's hockey.

She was the first female non-goalie to play in a professional hockey game in North America; she played alongside her brother, Bill, for the Central Hockey League's Tulsa Oilers in a game in January, 2005.

"Angela Ruggiero has defined this era of women's hockey," the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, Rene Fasel, said, and that pretty much sums it up.

What Angela aims to do now is pretty simple. There's a next era.

Someone has to be the voice for that next era. It's a full-time job.

"I'm urging countries like Russia and the Czech Republic, which have outstanding men's programs, to support their women's programs," she said Thursday, adding a moment later, "The game will continue to elevate and that's what's exciting … what I'm hoping is that some of these other countries will elevate at a faster level."

There's more on Angela's plate, too: representing the United States in international circles in the IOC; serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee board; maybe going to business school.

"There wasn't an a-ha moment," she said about this transition. "It was more of a cumulative moment. The biggest thing for me was the cumulative responsibility I have to the IOC and the USOC and I'm really passionate about that."

She also said, "I still love hockey. I'm just at a different stage in my life."