IOC keen to see where Blackmum steers USOC

By Steve Keating

Blackmun said he is prepared to go to great lengths to build bridges and restore U.S. influence on the international stage but Pound cautioned that USOC also might be ready to play hard ball, particularly over a prickly revenue sharing dispute.

"The risk for the IOC -- if it plays this badly -- is that the U.S. will say, 'ok so you don't like the share we take we won't take any'," Pound told Reuters.

"But just remember, whatever broadcaster you license needs our permission to use the word Olympic. We'll make a separate deal on our own.

"And it's important to us and to you that there be a Games once in-a-while in the United States.

"So whenever you want a Games in one of our cities, come tell us and we'll find a city and we'll put on a great Games.

"But we are not going to go on getting kicked in the nuts and being eliminated in the first and second round in these contests that are not based on the merits of the bid.

"That would not be something I would ever want to hear."

The USOC had a tough 2009, being portrayed as greedy and out of step with the times for dragging it's feet on a new revenue sharing deal and scolded by the IOC for floating the idea of an Olympic network.

The year ended in humiliation when Chicago, considered a favorite to host the 2016 Games won by Rio de Janeiro, was knocked out in the first round of voting.

But despite the problems, Pound maintains the U.S. continues to be a key player in the Olympic movement, particularly given the amount of U.S. television and sponsorship money that fills the IOC's coffers.

"For a long time 80 percent of the total resources for the Olympic movement were coming out of the United States," said Pound. "You have to pay attention to that.

"The United States could say, 'look we're out of the Olympic business for now. We're not going to bid for 2018 or 2020 or 2022 maybe 2024 but that's 14 years there won't have been a Games in (North) America.

"You're going to run out of places like Dubai and Bulgaria and so on. If you only go to places like that you're brand is really going to take a beating.

"There will be no interest in America and therefore no television rights, no sponsorship.

"If the U.S. television rights shrink by half not only do you lose a billion dollars there is probably a knock on affect in other markets.

"The USOC could easily shoot itself in the foot here, but so could the IOC."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)