Coates confident reduced-cost Olympics will go ahead
John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s coordination commission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, has expressed confidence that the rearranged showpiece will take place next year.
The Australian official told Reuters: “I’m putting a lot of work into it and my gut feeling is yes, we will [have an Olympics in 2021].”
In March this year, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which should have taken place at this time of year, were delayed by 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
With Covid-19 still prevalent in many parts of the world, doubts have been expressed over whether the games will get the green light in 2021, while surveys have shown a largely negative feeling in the Japanese population.
He claimed that in order to offset the costs associated with the postponement of the Olympics to 23 July to 8 August 2021, over 200 cost-saving measures have been considered.
Coates said: “Some of those areas could well further reduce the complexity, and thus the cost, of hosting games in the future. That’s the opportunity. Not all will be adopted because we have to make sure they don’t affect the athletes and the sports, and that they’re acceptable to both sides, but we’re working through them.”
Japanese reports have suggested that delaying the Olympics until next summer is already set to add around $2.8 billion to the original games budget of $12.6 billion.
The IOC has already set aside $650 million to cover potential extra costs associated with the postponement.
Coates suggested that some of the new measures to be implemented would become the “new norm” for hosting an Olympics.
However, he has been impressed with the strength of the relationship between the IOC and its Japanese partners over the last few months, saying: “They’ve maintained their motivation. I’m very, very impressed. This is a challenge they didn’t anticipate and they’re just getting on with it.”
Last week, Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the organising committee for Tokyo 2020, said his team was preparing to host the games even if the coronavirus pandemic has not subsided substantially by this time next year, adding that he hoped sponsors would help to offset the cost of the delay.
Muto said the exact cost would not be known until December but bringing in new sponsors as well as increased contributions from current partners could help bridge the financial gap.
He said: “I know that businesses are in dire circumstances because of coronavirus but still there are companies who are coming forward to say they want to sponsor the games, which we appreciate very much. It is a bright piece of news.
“We are hoping that there will be additional contributions [from existing sponsors] in terms of sponsorship fee because of the postponement of a year. We would appreciate a lot if they agree to this.”