Tokyo Olympics: Many questions, few answers in face of coronavirus pandemic


The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed a month in the past. But there are nonetheless extra questions than answers in regards to the new opening on July 23, 2021, and what type these video games will take.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, will the Olympics actually begin in 15 months? If so, in what type? With followers? Without followers? Can they open with no vaccine? TV broadcasters and sponsors present 91% of the revenue for the International Olympic Committee. How a lot strain will they exert on the shape these Olympics take? What in regards to the Beijing Winter Olympics, opening in February 2022. China is the place the coronavirus was first found, and the authoritarian authorities has been draconian in phrases of lockdowns and journey restrictions.

IOC President Thomas Bach has already mentioned there may be “no blueprint” in assembling what he called this “huge jigsaw puzzle.”

“I cannot promise ideal solutions,” he mentioned. “But I can promise that we’ll do everything to have the best possible games for everybody.”

Q: Some scientists are skeptical the delayed Tokyo Olympics can open in 15 months. What are the prospects?

A: Many scientists consider an Olympics with spectators cannot occur till a vaccine is developed. That might be 12-18 months away, specialists say, after which there will probably be questions on efficacy, distribution, and who will get it first. Kentaro Iwata, a Japanese professor of infectious illness, mentioned final week: “I am very pessimistic about holding the Olympic Games next summer unless you hold the Olympic Games in a totally different structure such as no audience or a very limited participation.” Yoshitake Yokokura, president of the Japan Medical Association, got here to the identical conclusion in a current interview. An Olympics in empty venues is trying extra doubtless, which is the state of affairs for a lot of sports activities. Fans hungry for some motion could have grown accustomed to this configuration by the point the Olympics arrive.

Q; Postponing the Olympics will probably be pricey. Who will choose up the bills?

A: In two phrases: Japanese taxpayers. Japanese organizers and the IOC have mentioned they’re “assessing” the added prices. They haven’t ventured an estimate — a minimum of not publicly. Estimates in Japan vary from $2 billion to $6 billion. Host nation Japan is sure by the phrases of the Host City Contract signed in 2013 to pay most of the payments. The IOC has already mentioned the delay will price it “several hundred million dollars.” IOC member John Coates, who oversees preparations for Tokyo, said this money will go to struggling international federations and national Olympic committees, and not to Japan organizers. The bills keep piling up. Japan originally said the Olympics would cost $7.3 billion. Officially the budget is now $12.6 billion, although a national audit board says it’s twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money. And now come the costs of the delay. Tokyo organizers were upset last week with the IOC. On its website, it had Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying Japan would pick up the added costs. The IOC deleted the statement, even though in principle it is correct.

Q: Where do we stand with venues and the Olympic Village?

A: Not much word so far. CEO Toshiro Muto has said it will take time to see if all these venues can be used. Of course, some may require renegotiated contacts. Proprietors of all venues will be under tremendous pressure to cooperate so the original competition schedule can be maintained. Tokyo’s Big Sight convention center is likely to remain the media center. Muto said it has been configured for the Olympics and hinted it would likely stay that way. The Olympics draw 11,000 athletes from 206 nations. The Paralympics add 4,400 more.

Q: What about tickets?

A: Organizers have said they will try to honor tickets already purchased. Officials say a total of 7.8 million are available. Organizers budgeted $800 million in revenue from ticket sales, and unprecedented demand has pushed that to $1 billion. That’s roughly 15% of the $5.6 billion of the privately funded operating budget. This income can’t be sacrificed with the bills piling up. Same is true for $3.3 billion sold in local sponsorships. The problems will arise if ticket holders are not allowed to attend and want refunds. Tickets carry a “force majeure” clause, which could free organizers from the duty to offer refunds. However, it is not clear that COVID-19 will rise up as a justification.

Q: How reliant is the IOC on revenue from broadcasters and sponsors?

A: A large 91% of IOC revenue is from these two sources — broadcasters and sponsors — and 73% is from broadcasters. Bach has mentioned the IOC doesn’t have “cash flow” issues, and the committee reportedly has a reserve fund of about $1 billion. But it phases solely two occasions each 4 years, nearly your complete supply of its $5.7 billion revenue in a four-year cycle. It’s not like a soccer or baseball league with 1000’s of matches. It wants the Summer Olympics. American broadcaster NBC pays greater than $1 billion to air every Olympics. The IOC will push the Olympics to go ahead, in no matter type.

Q: Where is the Olympic flame, which arrived from Greece on March 26?

A: It was taken off public show earlier this month in Fukushima prefecture, situated 250 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo. Muto mentioned after the Olympic torch relay was canceled that “the Olympic flame was put under the management of Tokyo 2020. Obviously, in the future there is a possibility it might be put on display somewhere. However, for now, it is under the management of Tokyo 2020 and I’m not going to make any further comment on the issue.” There are solutions the IOC is pondering of taking the flame on a world tour, hoping to make use of it as a public-relations software and a logo of the battle in opposition to the virus. However, any tour could be unimaginable till journey restrictions are lifted. Taking the flame away from Japan may additionally upset the hosts. China took the flame on a world tour in 2008, which was met with protests over China’s human rights insurance policies. At the time IOC President Jacques Rogge mentioned the “crisis” threatened the Olympics. World excursions with the flame haven’t been held since.

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