The Japanese Government, which has to date invested US$10 billion in the staging of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, has indicated that the Tokyo Olympics will be delayed for a year.
In a month of cancellations of various sporting events, the announcement was not unexpected.
While Japan has been downplaying the effect of the coronavirus, on its population, and the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been holding out hope that the summer would see a world free of the virus, things changed this week.
First of all, conditions began to worsen in the United States which sends the largest delegation of all countries to the event which occurs every four years.
“The problem now is that, as a mass event business, sports cannot occur because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus, bringing everything to a screeching halt.”– The New York Times
Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 407,000 and is yet to reach its crescendo.
The virus which is now in all states of the United States has not yet reached its peak, with over 500 residents dead.
Meanwhile, Canada, another large delegation source, announced its decision not to participate.
On Tuesday March 24, Prime Minister Abe indicated that the games will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, was asked by Abe for the postponement.
The national decision, according to the New York Times on Tuesday morning, March 24, followed “months of internal discussion and mounting pressure from nations and athletes across the world who had urged that the Games, the world’s largest sporting event, be postponed.”
Notably, internationally, lockdowns to control the pandemic had shut down qualifying tournaments, closed training facilities and kept athletes at home.
The Times said that Japan has invested more than $10 billion to prepare for the Games.
Before this, the Games have only been suspended due to war.
The financial loss expected is huge, not only for the nation of Japan.
Researchers at apnews.com say the IOC’s annual reports show it paid almost $14.4 million in an insurance premium to protect against cancelling the 2016 Rio Olympics and $12.8 million for a policy to cover the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The premium paid for 2020 is not known but insurers are expected to lose big.
Losses will extend to 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes, coaches and sports officials, local organisers, international broadcasters, fans and world sponsors, apnews said.
Also totting up their losses will be hotels, airlines and taxi drivers. The Japanese government will lose an expected US$1 billion in ticket sales.
The New York Times noted that while in the past “the sports business has largely proven to be somewhat recession proof, most major sports organisations weathered the economic fallout of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the financial crisis in 2008.
“The problem now is that, as a mass event business, sports cannot occur because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus, bringing everything to a screeching halt.”
With the cancellation of the greatest show on earth, sports and all related events are officially in intensive care, until further notice.