At the end of a week in which United States President Barack Obama announced moves to normalise diplomatic and economic links with Cuba after half-a-century of mutual hostility, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has unveiled its own agreement with the Caribbean island.
The IOC has awarded exclusive broadcast rights for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the territory to Cuban state broadcaster, the Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT).
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, represents a landmark for the IOC beyond its local significance, since it means the Lausanne-based body has completed all broadcast agreements for Rio, with almost 600 days still to go before the Olympic Cauldron is lit.
The agreement means it can now be stated definitively that the value of broadcast rights for the entire 2013-2016 Olympic quadrennium is a colossal $4.1 billion (£2.6 billion/€3.5 billion).
This figure compares with a final total of $3.85 billion (£2.45 billion/€2.91 billion) for the Vancouver 2010-London 2012 Olympic cycle, and demonstrates the Movement’s resilience in the face of continuing economic and political turbulence.
It also, however, represents a marked slowdown from the near 50 per cent rate of growth achieved from this key revenue source in 2009-2012, when set against 2005-2008.
For ICRT, Rafael Yaech said: “The broadcast of the Olympic Games in Cuba is a celebration for our hard-working people and our quality of life.
“We are pleased with this agreement with the [IOC], with the assurance that we will continue to work together in favor of sports.”
Gerardo Werthein, the Argentinean IOC member appointed chair of the IOC’s Radio and Television Commission in April, said that ICRT had been “an excellent partner to the Olympic Movement for many years in promoting the Olympic Games and the values of the Olympic Movement in Cuba”.
The IOC, he said, was looking forward to “continuing our work with them in Rio”.
ICRT has acquired the rights across all broadcast platforms in all languages.
Cuba’s Olympic boxers, such as Félix Savón and the late Teófilo Stevenson, have become particularly celebrated around the around the world over recent decades.
The country – including long-time caudillo Fidel Castro – would also welcome wholeheartedly the return of baseball to the Olympic program, as seems increasingly likely at Tokyo 2020.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.