Events like the 2020 European football championships are delayed for 12 months and powerful national sports federations including the US track and field federation and therefore the US and French swimming federations have involved the Tokyo Games to be postponed.
So what explains the IOC’s stance?
Four months to travel
IOC President Thomas Bach maintains that with the opening ceremony thanks to happening in Tokyo on July 24, there’s still time for the pandemic to be addressed — and he suggested on Friday that other officials within the Olympic movement shared that view.
“For us, (postponement) wouldn’t be responsible now and it might be premature to start out speculation or make a choice at a time once we don’t have any recommendation from the task force,” Bach told the NY Times.
Jean-Christophe Rolland, the president of FISA, the international rowing federation, told AFP he had some understanding for Bach´s position. “We are still an extended way from July 24. We face a totally unprecedented crisis and no-one can predict with any certainty how it’ll unfold, so the variety of scenarios are possible,” he said.
Only bowed to world wars
Even after the worldwide financial crisis of 1987 and therefore the 1991 Gulf War, the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympics went ahead. It took world wars to cause the cancellation of the Games in 1916, 1940 and 1944.
“Cancelling or postponing the Olympics has immense symbolic value,” said Nathalie Nenon-Zimmermann, head of Paris-based sports marketing agency Only Sports & Passion.
“We would be crossing into the unchartered territory (if there was a postponement) — it might mean the Olympics are not any longer immutable apart from world wars,” she added.
Patrick Clastres, of the Centre for Olympic studies and therefore the globalization of sport at the University of Lausanne, said the four-year cycle of the Games was “as important because of the principle of attributing the Games to a special city… it’s something that distinguishes the Olympics from other global competitions”
Japan would have the last word — but it’s complex
While the formal decision would be the IOC’s to require, the Japanese government will have the last word, in conjunction with the local organizing committee and guided by the recommendations of the planet Health Organization.
“The decisions need to be crazy a posh range of stakeholders,” Clastres said. “They include the Tokyo organizing committee, the Japanese government, the international federation, marketing agencies and therefore the media.”
Enormous financial consequences
The IOC redistributes 90% of its revenues to sports organizations. For the 2016 Rio Games, the figure was $5.7 billion, so a postponement would have wide-reaching implications for the funding of sport globally.
The big media player in Olympic finances is US broadcaster NBC, which has already sold $970 million of advertising for the Tokyo Olympics and would need a say within the date of a re-arranged Games.
“The risk of getting to pay compensation within the event of a postponement or, even worse, a cancellation, must be taken into consideration. The financial consequences would be felt by sport generally,” Nathalie Nenon-Zimmermann said.
What about the competitors?
The US track and field federation (USATF), the star performers within the blue riband Olympic sport, and therefore the US and French swimming federations have all involved the Games to be delayed. USATF chief Max Siegel said forging ahead with Olympic preparations “would not be within the best interest of our athletes.”
Norway’s national Olympic committee also said it wanted the Games to require place only after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.
Athletes have also urged the IOC to reconsider.
The IOC and therefore the national federations have another problem — only 43 percent of competitors have qualified thus far and people pre-Olympic competitions are halted. Anti-doping testing has also been stopped, adding to the complexity.
Hosting an Olympics requires huge investment by the host country, in facilities, transport, and accommodation. for instance, the athletes’ village, built to carry 11,000 competitors, is thanks to sold off as apartments after the Games.
“The Olympic Village is one among the issues among thousands of others,” said Jean-Loup Chapelet, a Lausanne-based professor who specializes in the Olympics. “But it’ll up to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to release the required budget or to require legislative measures.”