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A Letter From CEO Sarah Hirshland To The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Community On The Release Of The 2019 Impact Report

By Sarah Hirshland, Chief Executive Officer | Aug. 03, 2020, 11:30 a.m. (ET)

Para track & field athlete Deja Young celebrates at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 25, 2019 in Lima, Peru.


To the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Community,

Every year, as a governance and organizational best practice, and in service to our broad community of stakeholders, we honor our commitment to accountability and transparency by publishing documents that reflect on the prior year, demonstrate the progress and impact of our organization during that year, and present our audited financials. 

For 2019, we are posting our consolidated financial statements and Form 990s for the USOPC and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation—and we are also sharing a reimagined and updated Impact Report along with a completely new set of reporting documents that clearly outline how we allocated financial support to member organizations in support of Team USA athletes. 

Previously known as the annual report, the 2019 Impact Report goes well beyond earlier versions in offering insight into our new five-year strategic plan. Our four strategic priorities—and where you’ll see us invest and make substantive change in the coming years—are focused around creating a better experience for athletes; improving the effectiveness of all the organizations that serve Team USA; establishing an athletes-first culture; and ultimately preparing for the transformational opportunity represented by hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in LA in 2028. This is a plan that was, for the first time in our organization’s history, co-created by representatives from across our diverse community. 

The USOPC and USOPF consolidated financial statements and Form 990s show revenue of approximately $194 million, down from $317 million in 2018. This is principally due to the timing of broadcast revenues that we receive from NBC, which vary in Games years versus non-Games years. Expenses were similarly down in a non-Games year at $248 million from $275 million in 2018. 

Thanks to the financial support we receive from NBC, our corporate partners and individual donors, high performance program investment held steady in 2019, with the total of $111 million representing nearly half of all program spending for the year. This includes direct athlete stipends and funding for Performance Partnership Agreements with National Governing Bodies and High Performance Management Organizations. 

Athlete and NGB foundational program funding rose 28% from 2018, to just over $30 million in 2019, representing an increase in programs focused on athletes’ safety, career and education programs, athlete representation initiatives across our Olympic and Paralympic community, enhanced NGB support and expanded Ombuds services. 

The third component—in reality, 61 individual reports—is the Sport Benefit Statements. These statements are a new function of our organizational transparency, and for the first time, provide a holistic look at the services and financial resources the USOPC allocates directly to athletes, and in support of athletes through their NGB or HPMO. Individually, these documents offer a great deal of very specific information that reflect the depth of the USOPC’s partnership with each of these critical partners. 

For years, we have heard that our finances, specifically those related to NGB and athlete support were hard to understand or decipher. The Sport Benefit Statements aim to answer those questions with a new level of detail and insight—and show a relationship that is at once hugely supportive but also rooted in thoughtful efficiencies and a deep focus on sound stewardship. 

Collectively, these documents show that 2019 was a year of remarkable progress in which we listened to our community, changed our culture and implemented a strategic plan that will allow us to better support, serve and partner with all the stakeholders that contribute to the Olympic and Paralympic movements. 

It was a year in which we made some of the most sweeping governance changes the USOPC has ever seen—not for the sake of change, but because we believe it will improve athlete well-being and develop a stronger system of accountability. We ended 2019 a very different organization—in culture, in mindset and in how we operate—and we are better positioned to steward the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements than we have ever been before. 

That began with formally changing our name to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee to reflect all athletes of Team USA. We embraced an athletes-first mentality, making changes to our mission, our values, our bylaws, our leadership and our structure. And as a result, we are empowering athletes to participate more directly in our decision-making by increasing their representation and elevating their voices in our strategic plan. 

Throughout, our commitment to competitive excellence was unwavering as we supported athletes achieve historic performances at the Pan and Parapan American Games in Lima, and planned for what was expected to be a truly magical 2020 Games in Tokyo. We once again set our standard of being the best prepared team in the world, ready to support American athletes and celebrate inspiring performances with our global community. 

We can look at 2019 and be proud of the work we completed, as well as the work we started—together, as we continually seek new ways of structuring and operating. As we face the realities of today and uncertainties of tomorrow, we can hold our head high with the knowledge that our focus on serving the remarkable athletes of Team USA will keep us on the right path—and our community will be stronger on account of our efforts.

So, while circumstances have changed considerably over the past several months, I encourage you to review the documents and take pride in the great work done, and in knowing that we are collectively adapting this organization to serve against our mission—and be resilient in the face of adversity.

We did this as a team, and we are more grateful today than ever before for the partnerships and collaboration we enjoy with each of you as we strive to inspire and unite ourselves and our country by building a better, more inclusive world through sport.


Sarah Hirshland