How the IOC finances a better world through sport

The IOC is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to using the revenue generated from the Olympic Games to assist athletes and develop sport worldwide. As a result, every day the IOC distributes about USD 4.2 million around the world to help athletes and sporting organisations.

The Olympic Games generate substantial revenues almost unparalleled across the sporting world. In total, through the sale of broadcasting and marketing rights, as well as other income streams, the revenue for the Olympiad that spans 2017 to 2020/21, covering the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, was USD 7.6 billion.

Ninety per cent distributed to sport and athlete development across the globe

Because the IOC is a non-profit organisation, 90 per cent of the revenues from the Games go straight back into sport and athlete development. In total, around USD 2.8 billion is put towards the staging of the Olympic Games, to ease the financial burden on the host cities. From Athens 2004 to Tokyo 2020 (Summer Games), and from Salt Lake City 2002 to PyeongChang 2018 (Winter Games), the IOC has increased its contribution towards the success of the Games, allocating a total of USD 1,892 million for Tokyo 2020 (including some costs of the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020) and USD 887 million for PyeongChang 2018. A considerable sum is also put towards the cost of staging the Youth Olympic Games every two years.

Fifty per cent of WADA’s budget comes from the IOC

As laid out in the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020, supporting athletes is at the heart of the Olympic Movement. This is done during the Olympic Games, through the whole Games-time experience for athletes, the Olympic Village, travel grants and all the support athletes receive throughout the 17 days of competition. But beyond the Games, the IOC’s funds are also used to finance the network of athletes’ commissions across the globe which promotes the empowerment of athletes and enables their voices to be heard. Protecting clean athletes is extremely important to the IOC, and therefore substantial investment is made in the anti-doping ecosystem, with 50 per cent of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s funding coming directly from the IOC, while the other 50 per cent comes from the governments of the world.

USD 590 million for Olympic Solidarity

The IOC also aims to make success at the Games achievable by everyone, and so, every Olympic cycle, a substantial portion of the profits from the Games is allocated through the National Olympic Committees directly to helping athletes and coaches from countries with the greatest financial need, as part of the Olympic Solidarity programme. This is particularly vital in the modern sporting world, in which talent and determination alone are not enough to reach the top. High-level coaching, preparation and the ability to travel to competitions are also required.

Because of this, as part of the latest Olympic Solidarity Plan – which runs from 2021 to 2024 – USD 590 million, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous 4-year plan is being spent on various world and continental programmes going, among others, towards athlete development, training of coaches and sports administrators, and Olympic values education to make the Olympic Games more accessible across the globe. Part of this money is used to fund the Olympic scholarship programmes, which provide athletes in need with a monthly training grant as well as travel subsidies to compete in Olympic qualification competitions. In addition, for athletes to progress they also need expert coaching. Between 2017 and 2020, coaches from 175 NOCs had the opportunity to take part in a total of 865 technical courses, with 632 coaches receiving scholarships to further their coaching skills and education.

Olympic Solidarity scholarship-holders won 113 medals at Tokyo 2020

In the run-up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Olympic Solidarity supported over 20,000 athletes from youth to elite across various assistance programmes, in which 827 Olympic scholarship-holders representing 178 NOCs and 26 sports participated for Tokyo 2020. They won a total of 113 medals (30 gold, 36 silver and 47 bronze). This included three NOCs winning their first ever Olympic medal and three NOCs winning their first ever Olympic gold medal.

Olympic scholarships for 523 athletes from 89 NOCs prior to PyeongChang 2018

But it is not just about the medals. Olympic Solidarity looks to ensure that athletes from as many parts of the world as possible are able to participate in the Games. A case in point is Alpine skier Albin Tahiri, Kosovo’s sole representative for its Olympic Winter Games debut at PyeongChang 2018, who was able to qualify for and reach the Games with the aid of an Olympic scholarship. Tahiri went on to compete in all five Alpine skiing events at the Games, with a best finish of 37th in the Alpine combined. Prior to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Olympic Solidarity allocated scholarships to 523 athletes from 89 NOCs (435 individual scholarships plus 88 tailor-made).

Support for refugee athletes

In addition, following the success of the Refugee Olympic Team at Rio 2016, the IOC launched a new Refugee Athlete Support programme, which provides NOCs with resources to support a number of refugee athletes living in their countries and allow them to prepare for and compete in international competitions. This pool of refugee athletes served as a basis for the selection of the Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020, where 29 refugee athletes competed as part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.

Athletes’ Career Transition programme prioritised

But the IOC support to athletes does not end with the Games. As part of Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC pledges to support athletes beyond the competition arena, and its 2017-2020 Olympic Solidarity Plan saw the introduction of support to the NOCs to benefit fully from the Athletes’ Career Transition programme. This programme offers athletes at various stages of their careers assistance in terms of funding and career advice. In November 2017, the IOC announced the launch of Athlete365, a dedicated brand to support the world’s Olympic-level athlete community. This is provided through a centralised digital hub, and physical outreach during Games time through the Village’s Athlete365 space, as well as before and after the Games through International Federations and NOCs.

Among the recent highlights include:

  • During 2017-2020, 83 athletes were supported with individual education initiatives by the Athlete Career Transition programme
  • In 2019, Olympic Solidarity launched financial support for the entrepreneurial programme, Athlete365 Business Accelerator, and for the Master in Ethics and Integrity of Sport MAiSI within the framework of the OS Athlete Career Transition programme.
 New financial support for the NOC Athletes’ Commissions

In 2020, a new Olympic Solidarity programme, NOC Athletes’ Commission Activity Grant, was made available to all NOC Athletes’ Commissions to help empower athletes and contribute to the development of an effective global athletes’ representation network at national level by strengthening direct financial support for their activities.

A total of 61 NOC Athletes’ Commissions applied for this programme in 2020. However, due to COVID-19, seven NOCs cancelled their activities. The programme was mainly used to organise the National Athletes’ Forum – in many countries for the first time.

IOC promoting athletes

In May 2021, the IOC launched – a single, people-centric digital platform to provide engagement opportunities, deliver original content and present Olympic communications. created a single destination for Olympic online properties that were previously separate, including the Olympic Channel,, and all future Games. This comprehensive source for Olympic information, news and original content has been designed to allow for improved and streamlined digital engagement opportunities for people around the world during and between each Games – with more personalised user experiences, Games-time schedules and results, fantasy games, original content and an Olympic e-commerce presence.

The Olympic Channel exists as a live section under It places athletes at the heart of its programming through content inspired by the Olympic values and brings much deserved attention to Olympians and Olympic hopefully 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

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