For Japan, it has been unthinkable to postpone the Summer Olympics even while the global coronavirus pandemic was spreading worldwide.
Up until now, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been insisting that the Olympics held normally. This insistence has led to the athletes saying the Games could be a health risk.
Fortunately, they may be turning towards a realistic alternative.
Olympics organizers are planning for postponement
2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics organizers are quietly planning to delay the Games due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19, according to Reuters‘ exclusive report. On March 22, 2020, Reuters reported that Tokyo 2020 organizers are considering alternative options, quoting two anonymous officials who said,
“Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,” one of the sources said, who is an official close to the organizing committee involved in drafting the scenarios.
“We are making alternative plans – plan B, C, D – looking at different postponement time-frames,” said the official. He added that the scenarios included cost estimates for different delays.
The decision to delay the Olympics should not come lightly, according to two senior members of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.
“The more they push the decision away … [they have to make] more and more preparations … – this will cause cancellation fees to go through the roof,” the board member said.
Thomas Bach, chief of the International Olympic Committee, recently said that the IOC was “considering different scenarios.”
The cost of delaying the 2020 Summer Olympics
Consequently, Tokyo Organizing Committee and the Japanese government expect to suffer enormous economic losses if they have to delay the Olympics. For instance, Japanese economic experts predict that canceling the Olympic will incur a huge loss of around $15 billion. That includes $3 billion in domestic sponsorship and $12 billion on preparations. On a smaller scale, they include TV broadcast fees, sponsor related costs, personnel expenses and advertising costs.
“Of course companies are individually discussing what to do,” said a representative of one of the more than 60 sponsors. “No one wants to be the first to say anything about the possibility of a postponement.”
Lastly, Finance Minister Taro Aso believes that the delay is inevitable. In a recent comment, he compared Tokyo 2020 to the previous games. The 1940 Olympics did not take place because of World War II. And the United States led a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games.
“It’s a problem that’s happened every 40 years,” he said. “It’s the cursed Olympics – and that’s a fact.”
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