Olympics 2014, 2016: Let The Bidding War Begin

The head of the International Olympic Committee was hazy on specifics, but said Friday the formal bidding process for rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics is nearing the starting line.

Jacques Rogge, head of the IOC, said the issue would be discussed at a March meeting of the organization. Negotiations would be expected to start as "as soon as possible," according to a report.

As the IOC looks to reap a windfall in a down economy, Rogge said there is no shortage of programmers eager to obtain the rights. "We have had a lot of interest from broadcasters for 2014 and 2016," he told reporters, according to Reuters. "We have had contacts from all major broadcasters and even smaller broadcasters."

NBC Universal has carried every Summer Olympics since 1988 and the last two Winter Games, and holds the rights to next year's Winter event in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games. NBCU agreed to pay $2.2 billion for the next two games back in 2003, which was almost double the outlay for the 2006 and last summer's Beijing Games.



In 2003, the company topped offers from Fox and ABC/ESPN--both of which are expected to mount aggressive challenges this time.

One wild card is which city will be chosen as the host for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago is a finalist, and its selection would add to the value of the Games. However, the venue selection could come after the broadcast rights are handed out.

The 2014 Winter Games will be held on Russia's Black Sea.

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