TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 organizers have began drafting potential alternate options to holding the Olympics this summer season, two sources acquainted with the talks mentioned, in distinction to the Japanese authorities’s stance that postponement will not be an choice.
FILE PHOTO: A lady carrying a protecting face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), walks previous the Olympic rings in entrance of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
While the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted sports activities occasions all over the world, Japan has been steadfast in saying that the Games will go on. The prime authorities spokesman on Wednesday mentioned Tokyo wasn’t making ready for postponement.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has staked his legacy as Japan’s longest-serving premier on the Games and is hoping for a increase in tourism and client spending. At threat is greater than $three billion in home sponsorship, an Olympic document, and a few $12 billion spent on preparations.
“Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,” mentioned one of many sources, an official near the organizing committee who’s concerned in drafting the situations.
Both sources spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to talk to the media.
“We are making alternative plans – plan B, C, D – looking at different postponement time-frames,” mentioned the official, including the situations included value estimates for completely different delays.
Neither Tokyo 2020 organizers nor the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instantly responded to a request for remark. The authorities of Japan couldn’t be reached for remark.
The choices, which embody scaling again the Games or holding them with out spectators, can be debated by the organizing committee on the finish of March, the official mentioned.
The second supply, who can also be near the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, confirmed that postponement was being mentioned, together with delays of 1 or two years.
Some organizing workers had been holding out hope for a delay of a month or 45 days, mentioned the official concerned in drafting the situations.
A last choice on postponement should come from the IOC however Japan’s stance additionally issues.
The IOC and its highly effective chief, Thomas Bach, say the Games will go forward as deliberate, drawing fireplace from athletes who say that may very well be a well being threat.
Two different insiders, each senior members of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, echoed these considerations. One of them, a board member of the organizing committee, mentioned the choice to postpone needs to be made shortly.
“The more they push the decision away … more and more preparations have to be made – this will cause cancellation fees to go through the roof,” the board member mentioned.
Bach lately appeared to shift his tone, saying the IOC was “considering different scenarios”.
Japan’s Nikkei newspaper mentioned in a report on its web site on Sunday that the IOC will maintain a board assembly this week, as calls from sporting organizations for the occasion to be postponed gathered tempo.
The official concerned in drafting situations mentioned a protracted delay might spark complaints from older athletes and require retaining sponsors on board for longer. Another headache is the Olympic village, because of be transformed to flats after the Games.
The summer season 2021 calendar is already crowded whereas 2022 will see the soccer World Cup and the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Japanese sponsors are nervous, firm representatives have mentioned privately. Major sponsors embody Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Panasonic Corp (6752.T).
“Of course companies are individually discussing what to do,” mentioned a consultant of one of many greater than 60 sponsors. “No one wants to be the first to say anything about the possibility of a postponement.”
Japan Airlines Co (9201.T) mentioned that there was an 80% probability the Olympics wouldn’t be held as scheduled on a latest inside convention name, an individual briefed on the decision mentioned.
A JAL spokesman mentioned: “Our preparations are underway for the Games to open as scheduled”.
In Tokyo, there’s a sense delay could also be inevitable. Finance Minister Taro Aso has in contrast Tokyo 2020 to the 1940 Olympics canceled by World War II, and the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games.
“It’s a problem that’s happened every 40 years,” he mentioned. “It’s the cursed Olympics – and that’s a fact.”
Reporting by Maki Shiraki, Ju-min Park, Yuki Nitta, Ritsuko Ando, Makiko Yamazaki, Naomi Tajitsu, Yoshifumi Takemoto, Leika Kihara, Tim Kelly, Ami Miyazaki, Chang-Ran Kim, Antoni Slodkowski and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Kane Wu in Hong Kong, Editing by David Dolan and Raju Gopalakrishnan