Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Uncertainty surrounds Tokyo Olympic Games

Months after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed to 2021, the evolving pandemic with no clear indications on when it will end; has put the Tokyo Olympic Games back into contention. According to various reports, the cost of postponing and the likelihood of finding and administering a vaccine remain the main challenges for the ongoing Olympics preparation.

ESPN reported on an open conflict that broke out on Tuesday between Tokyo Olympic organizers and the IOC, over who will pay for the unprecedented yearlong postponement.

The report stated that, media reports in Japan estimate the yearlong delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic will cost USD two billion to USD six billion. The Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto has also called the postponement costs to be “massive.”

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The IOC statement, on a page titled “Frequently Asked questions about Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had agreed that Japan “will continue to cover the costs it would have done under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020, and the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the costs.”

It is to be recalled that, japan officially spent USD 12 billion to organize the Olympics, but a government audit report says it is at least twice as much. However, expect for USD 5.6 billion funded privately, the rest is covered by the public.

According to the organizing committee’s documents, the IOC has already contributed about USD 1.3 billion to organize the Tokyo Olympics. 

It is to be recalled that, back in 2013 the IOC picked Tokyo over Madrid and Istanbul to host the 2020 summer Olympics considered as a chance for the country to recover from the nuclear disaster Japan had in 2011. The postponement will cost a lot of hotels, restaurants and other businesses that have been getting ready for the arrival of visitors.

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According to John Coates, an Australian IOC member who oversees the Tokyo preparations, pointed out that, the IOC payments would go to struggling national Olympic Committees and international federations and not to Tokyo.

The IOC is the largest single revenue source for the majority of International Federations (IF), with Olympic broadcast revenues assisting IFs in the development of their respective sports worldwide.

Furthermore, it is becoming unrealistic for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics to take place next year, unless a coronavirus vaccine is found by then. According to Devi Sirdhar (Prof.), “the development of effective and affordable treatment would be a game changer in whether the postponed Games take place.”

Last week, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizers held an executive board meeting, in which they reiterated their hopes that the Games can be the “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Nonetheless, IOC coordination Commission, John Coates, acknowledged COVID-19 could still affect the rescheduled Olympics, which are due to take place from 23 July –August 2021.  Many argue that it could have an impact in terms of “mass gatherings or testing of athletes” and that the IOC would be guided by the World Health Organization. In this regard, many experts point out that mass gatherings or testing of athletes have its own risks.

The IOC Stated that, the details of planning for Tokyo 2020 in 2021 are being examined this month with view to establishing a new road map for the Games by May 2020, in order to then align resources and priorities accordingly. Furthermore, the IOC is also added that a number of measures addressing the potential impact of COVID-19 will be incorporated into the Games Delivery Plan for the Games in 2021.  

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