By David Owen

Carlos Slim 220313March 22 - The world's richest man, Carlos Slim, is becoming a partner of the Olympic Movement.

Slim's América Móvil has won the right to broadcast the Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 Olympics in Latin American markets outside Brazil.

The deal, understood to be worth more than $100 million (£66 million/€78 million), a big increase from the previous quadrennium, takes the amount raised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from broadcasting rights for the 2013-2016 period to more than $4 billion (£2.6 billion/€3.1 billion) - an astonishing sum - with a few large territories still unsold.

Perhaps the principal point of interest about today's announcement, however, is that América Móvil is a mobile phone company and not a traditional broadcaster.

"The highlight here is that we are granting gatekeeper rights to someone who is a non-broadcaster," said Richard Carrión, the senior IOC member who spearheaded the deal.

A possible candidate to succeed Jacques Rogge as IOC President later this year, Carrión said this type of deal was "the direction things are going in the future".

The Movement sets great store by Olympic coverage being made available to as many people as possible on a free-to-air basis.

Richard Carrión Jacques RoggeRichard Carrión (left), who is a candidate to take over from IOC President Jacques Rogge (right), orchestrated the deal

It seems likely, therefore, that América Móvil will now move to negotiate sub-deals to make sure this happens.

The move comes as Mexico's telecommunications market looks poised to become significantly more competitive.

The compelling content that Olympic action provides could thus be a vital weapon for América Móvil as it strives to hold on to customers.

Carrión, who declined to confirm the value of today's agreement, intimated that the IOC had initially been thinking of an eight-year deal, but had concluded ultimately that, with markets in the region set for a period of rapid change, a four-year term was preferable.

IOC broadcasting revenues for 2013-2016 have now surged significantly beyond the $3.914 billion (£2.576 billion/€3.034 billion) raised for the four years culminating with London 2012.

That 2009-2012 figure itself represented a stunning 52 per cent advance on the previous quadrennium, achieved in spite of the widely-publicised problems afflicting the global economy.

With the $2 billion (£1.3 billion/€1.6 billion) United States market, representing nearly half of the total, producing no growth this time around, repeating that 52 per cent advance was never on the cards.

Even so, the highly-specialised Olympic economy continues to demonstrate remarkable resilience in the face of the world's current financial problems.

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