The International Olympic Committee is setting aside up to $800 million to cover additional costs for the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo, and leaders said they are adjusting plans so they can streamline the scope and service levels at the event in 2021.
In a call with members of the media following an Executive Board meeting, IOC President Thomas Bach said the new funding will include $650 million to cover operational costs in Tokyo, while another $150 million will be available in the form of an aid package to international federations, national Olympic committees and IOC-recognized organizations to support their activities in the interim.
“This crisis has had very severe financial effects on the world and society and governments, and also on the Olympic Games, the entire Olympic movement and, in particular, the IOC,” he said. “As you can imagine, this is not easy because planning in these days is so difficult because of all the uncertainties you have. Nobody knows how the world will look like tomorrow.”
In addition, a task force created to help guide the IOC through the year to come is prioritizing its work on securing venues and the Olympic Village, Bach said.
“This task force has established certain priorities and their first priority is of course is to secure the Olympic Village and the venues for these postponed Games,” he said. “This is not an easy undertaking and this is why our Japanese friends are already working with full force on this. At the same time, based on Olympic Agenda 2020, opportunities are being explored to optimize and streamline the scope and service level of the Games, and to reduce the overall impact that has been caused by the postponement.”
The postponement to 2021 has required a number of new negotiations for the IOC, including with the more than 40 venues that were planned for use in 2020, some of which are owned and operated by municipalities. Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, said talks are continuing not only with venues, but with Tokyo hotels that had committed to housing members of the Olympic movement and visitors.
“We are focusing on sport and the athletes but venues can play a critical part,” he said. “The organizing committee is also progressing on the Olympic Village and the media centers and all the hotels. Here, the efforts are monumental. There is also a tremendous goodwill from all the actors in Japan, from the hotel industry on one side and the municipalities that are owning and operating venues on the other side. What I can say is we are confident. This a difficult task and it is very detailed. But at the same time, the work is progressing extremely well.”
In other developments:
- Asked how important it would be for the development of a vaccine to continue planning for the Games and a potential limits on spectators, Bach said the IOC is working with the World Health Organization in its planning but it is too early to say if spectators will be left out of venues. “We are now one year and two months away from the Games,” Bach said, “so it’s way too early to draw any conclusions now.”
- Bach said the Olympic movement should prepare for different levels of hospitality and services at the Games. “This situation requires compromises and sacrifices by everybody,” he said. “The IOC and the organizing committee are in close contact through this joint task force and we are leaving no stone unturned in this respect to reduce the costs while maintaining the spirit of the Games and the quality of the sports competition for the athletes in particular. Around these principles there are no taboos. Everything is being discussed and everything is on the table. This also includes service levels for all stakeholders in the Olympic movement.”
- Asked if the IOC has any plans to consider a location outside of Tokyo or postponing or canceling the event in 2021, Bach said the IOC expects the Games to remain on schedule, starting July 23, 2021. “In order to ensure this safe environment for all the participants in Tokyo next year, the task force is making every effort and is collecting all the available advice from all the experts. But we are one year and two months away from the opening of these postponed Olympic Games so we should not fuel any speculation on any future developments now.”
- The bid process for the next available Games — the Winter Games in 2030 and the Summer Games in 2032 —remains on schedule, despite the attention to the postponement of the Tokyo Games. Salt Lake City has made its intentions known in wanting to pursue the 2030 Games, and several other cities have expressed interest in 2030 and 2032. New IOC commissions established to stay in contact with host cities are working as they intended, Bach said. “We are very happy with this development because we have to consider we are now 12 years ahead of the Games in 2032,” he said. In addition, he said, the decision to award Paris the 2024 Games and Los Angeles the 2028 Games at one time was prescient because otherwise the IOC would be deciding a 2028 host next year in the midst of the postponement in Tokyo. “This, to say diplomatically, would not have been the best moment to do this.”
Future Financial Picture Uncertain
Earlier, Bach has written an open letter in which he admitted to uncertainty to how the worldwide sports calendar will look in a post-coronavirus world and said that international federations will have to revise their financial forecasts for years after the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.
“At this moment, nobody knows what the realities of the post-coronavirus world will look like,” Bach wrote. “What is clear, however, is that probably none of us will be able to sustain every single initiative or event that we were planning before this crisis hit. We will all need to take a close look at the scope of some of our activities and make the necessary adjustments to the new realities. In this context, the IOC administration is reviewing the IOC’s budget and priorities.”
The letter also re-emphasized the IOC’s focus on the Olympic Agenda 2020, crafted in an effort to keep the cost of future Games down and make them sustainable. Along with a new memorandum of understanding with the World Health Organization, the IOC “shall also have to consider what social distancing may mean for our relations with e-sports,” an interesting development given the organization’s reluctance to include gaming on the Olympic program.
“Some (international federations) have already been very creative by organizing remote competitions,” Bach said. “We should further strengthen these moves and encourage our joint working group to address this new challenge and opportunity.”
Because of the coronavirus’ economic impact, organizations such as the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee have had to make significant budget revisions, including pay cuts for top employees and buyouts. While the USOPC’s budget moves received widespread attention, it will be far from the only national Olympic committee to deal with such issues.
“For the Olympic movement as a whole, we may also have to look more closely into the proliferation of sports events,” Bach said. “The financial pressure on all the stakeholders, including NOCs, IFs and Organizing Committees, may require more consolidation in this respect.”