Tokyo Olympics 2020

Tokyo Olympic Organizers And IOC Conflict Over Who Pays For Postponement Of Games

Tokyo Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are in the middle of an intense financial feud over who will cover the costs for the “unprecedented yearlong postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.”

A spokesperson for Tokyo’s organizers, Masa Takaya, recently said that the organizing committee has asked the IOC, which is based in Switzerland, to remove a specific statement on the IOC’s website that suggests the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has agreed that Japan would pay for a majority of the postponement costs. This is what began the initial conflict. 

“It will now be the work of the IOC to assess all the challenges induced by the postponement of the Games, including the financial impact for the Olympic Movement. The Japanese government has reiterated that it stands ready to fulfil its responsibility for hosting successful Games. At the same time, the IOC has stressed its full commitment to the successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The IOC and the Japanese side, including the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, will continue to assess and discuss jointly about the respective impacts caused by the postponement,” according to the IOC.

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For context, media reports in Japan have estimated that the yearlong postponement brought on by the coronavirus pandemic will likely cost up to $6 billion when all is said and done. That’s an estimation, as the actual cost of postponing and rescheduling an Olympics isn’t something that’s ever had to be calculated. In fact, the Olympic games have never actually been postponed before; they have been cancelled three times though, all for war related reasons.  

“It’s not appropriate for the prime minister’s name to be quoted in this manner,” Takaya said. Within IOC’s Frequently Asked Questions page, the organization went on to also claim 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.”

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After the initial complaint from Tokyo, the IOC removed Abe’s specific name from any questions regarding financial obligations. The edited version is what’s quoted above: “The Japanese government has reiterated that it stands ready to fulfill its responsibility for hosting successful games.”

Regardless of the feud between Japan and the IOC, technically and legally, it’s up to the Japanese government to pay for a majority of the costs for the postponement, however, it’s a relatively sensitive time to be mentioning the costs of a sporting event while there’s a worldwide pandemic that’s already greatly impacting the economy. 

Under the terms of the Host City Contract that Tokyo signed in 2013, the city of Tokyo, the Japanese Olympic Committee and local organizers are obligated to always pay most of the costs. Section 68 of the contract reads: “Unless expressly stipulated otherwise in this contract, all obligations of the city, the NOC and/or the OCOG pursuant to this contract, shall be at their expense.”

The Tokyo Olympics are projected to begin on July 23rd 2021, and as of right now the Japanese Olympic Committee and government itself is focusing on the coronavirus pandemic, and rehabilitating their country/economy. Only time will tell how much this olympic postponement will further affect their economy as well.