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BP commits to USOC deal through 2016
BP extends sponsorship deal with US Olympic Committee through 2016 Olympics
By The Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) ' BP extended its sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Committee through the 2016 Games on Thursday, giving the USOC a boost as it tries to keep companies in the fold beyond next year's London Olympics.

Financial details were not released, though the BP deal is in the top tier for the USOC, worth between $12 million and $15 million.

With the BP extension, the USOC has 15 of its 30 sponsors signed through 2016 and beyond, including Kellogg's, Nike and General Electric.

The BP deal comes with some baggage in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill that killed 11 workers and has cost billions of dollars. But in the aftermath, the USOC didn't back off the deal despite the potential negative backlash and BP also remained committed.

"It's a tragedy that will stay with us," said Crystal Ashby, BP America's executive vice president for government and public affairs. "The Olympic team and its quest for excellence and belief in getting up each day and doing the right thing and striving for success, it's very much like what we do in the Gulf. We keep the commitments we've made in the Gulf. And we're committed to the success of the U.S. athletes and their programs."

The USOC's marketing chief, Lisa Baird, said the federation would not shy from pairing the BP brand with the Olympic rings, which are widely considered among the most recognizable and valuable logos in advertising. The pairing will be seen in BP stores across the country.

BP is also getting active in a number of USOC programs, including the Warrior Games, support for U.S. Paralympmic sports clubs and the Jack Kelly Fair Play Award.

"They've been very sensitive in working with us to make sure that through the representation of the athletes and the brand that we're all achieving what we want," Baird said. "We're lucky to have them for that reason."

The BP announcement was timed for Thursday's opening of the USOC Assembly, which, outside of the games themselves, is typically the largest domestic gathering of Olympic leaders. Baird is meeting with several sponsors during the Assembly and is hoping the BP extension might help push other sponsors forward, as they decide whether to stay on beyond 2012.

The USOC has 15 deals that are set to expire next year ' including McDonald's, Hilton and AT&T ' and will need extensions, or replacements, to guarantee financial security in the 2013-16 timeframe.

In 2010, more than $71 million of the USOC's $250 million in revenues came from sponsors.

The London 2012 Olympic organizing committee also has a deal with BP, valued at around $58 million.

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