IOC pledges $562,000 for restoring Notre Dame, backdrop of its 2024 Olympic events

Cassandra Negley
Yahoo Sports Contributor

The International Olympic Committee plans to pledge $562,000 to the restoration efforts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, where the Olympics will be held in 2024.

IOC wants cathedral completed by 2024

The Notre Dame Cathedral will be a part of two racing events at the 2024 Olympic Games. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP/Getty Images)

IOC president Thomas Bach made the statement in a letter dated Wednesday to Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet. It was translated from French by the Agence France-Presse.

“The aim of completing the reconstruction in time for Paris 2024 will be an extra motivation for all of us," Bach wrote.

"All the Olympic movement and in particular the IOC have been extremely touched by the instantaneous connection the French have made between Notre Dame cathedral and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Estanguet said the IOC wanted to “show its solidarity with Parisians and all French people,” per the report. The Notre Dame cathedral is on the route for the Olympic marathon and road cycling circuit.

President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild it “even more beautifully” within five years — falling in time for the Olympics — though there’s questions about if that’s realistic.

Around $1 billion has been donated to restoring the cathedral after a fire gutted the 850-year-old landmark Monday. Billionaires and large corporations have pledged millions each, stirring up controversy. France gives charitable donations a 60 percent tax break, raising eyebrows, and per France 24 individuals donating will have their break bumped up to 75 percent if giving to Notre Dame.

Even more people have wondered how many needy people could truly benefit from all that money.

The IOC is not immune from that controversy.

Critics ask why IOC won’t help elsewhere

Critics cited the poor as better recipients of the IOC’s money and noted athletes crowdfunding travel as well as past host cities falling into debt due to the games.

Multiple analyses, including those at FiveThirtyEight in 2016 and a study by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018, show the financial burden on host cities. While cities believe there will be an economic lift and surplus, the only host city to have made money off the games was Los Angeles in 1984, per “The Economics of Hosting the Olympic Games” study.

The IOC has been criticized in recent decades for not sharing money from the growing revenue pot as well as giving the games to the biggest, most ambitious plan. Cities that host the games must promise large, new structures to get the bid and even then bribery has played into the equation. And those buildings, made for thousands streaming into the city for two weeks, cost more than budgeted and aren’t usually put back to use.

Six months after Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2016 games, the Olympic Village was left unkempt as a ghost town. Maintenance costs alone reach into the millions per year even when not in use, according to the study.

It prompts the question that even if the $562,000 donation is a small amount in the grander operating budget, couldn’t it go toward a hosting-specific action by the city at the very least?

IOC gives $3.4M daily to support sport

The IOC receives revenue from sponsors, broadcasters, licensing and tickets, with 73 percent of its funding coming from the sale of broadcasting rights, per the IOC’s website.

In the 2013-2016 Olympiad the revenue was $5.7 billion, according to the IOC.

It gives 90 percent of it to organizations that “support the staging of the Olympic Games” and “promote the worldwide development of sport and the Olympic movement.” That equates, per the IOC, to $3.4 million every day to support athletes, organizations and sport around the world.

The other 10 percent is for IOC operations.

It has increased its contributions to host cities, giving approximately $1.53 billion for Rio 2016 and $887 million to PyeongChang 2018. The total cost of hosting in Rio de Janeiro broke $20 billion with the city paying more than $12 million. The developing city is arguably the shining example of the issues of bidding on the games.

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