May 22, 2020 / 5:00 PM / 13 days ago

USOPC cuts staff as coronavirus forces savings

(Reuters) - The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is eliminating 51 jobs and furloughing 33 employees in a bid to reduce expenses by 10-20% over the next four years as it faces tough financial times due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and Casey Wasserman, chairman of LA 2028, during an LA 2028 Olympic briefing in Los Angeles, California, February 18, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

In a letter to staff on Thursday seen by Reuters USOPC Sarah Hirshland explained that the cuts became necessary to offset the financial costs of the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which have been pushed back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You deserve to understand the decisions we made and how our organization, Team USA athletes and NGBs (National Governing Bodies) will be impacted,” wrote Hirshland.

“You may remember that on April 21st we came together to discuss the impact of the Tokyo Games postponement and the COVID-19 virus on our organization’s financial stability.

“I explained that the revenue we projected to collect this year, and in future years, would decline.

“As a result of that, we decided to proactively reduce our expenses by 10-20% over the 2020-2024 time frame to ensure we will be able to deliver against our mission and serve Team USA athletes for years to come.”

Saying she was, “overwhelmed by the magnitude of this change”, Hirshland added that it will take months, not weeks, before a return to full operation, particularly at training centers in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid.

The USOPC has scheduled a virtual Town Hall next Tuesday to discuss the planned changes.

“At the end of a difficult day, and a tough month, we must all be asking ourselves if something that feels so awful is necessary and right,” said Hirshland. “I believe that these actions are the right ones.

“This reality, coupled with the economic challenges that are impacting our revenue, have led us to identify several areas where we will reduce our planned investments over the remainder of this year and throughout the next quadrennial.

“All of us will need to adapt to a smaller team, new accountabilities, and a different structure. That process will take some time and a good bit of patience.”

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Ken Ferris

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