Tokyo 2020 Could Be Cancelled Because Of Coronavirus [DETAILS]
March. 06, 2020
The suspension, (or worse cancellation) of the world's oldest and greatest sporting mega-event because of coronavirus outbreak would not be unexpected in these telling times.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is due to take place in Tokyo from 24 July to 9 August - here are some of the key questions as the Olympic committee faces up this daunting challenge.
There are serious worries; Japan's proximity to China where the outbreak began, the suspension of Tokyo 2020 volunteer training, the restrictions placed on last weekend's Tokyo marathon where only top runners were allowed to participate, the suspension of J-League matches and other sporting events, and the country's nationwide closure of schools.
The news came just as International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach was facing the media in Lausanne, after a two-day executive board meeting.
Tokyo 2020 organisers had also agreed to scale back the torch relay in response to coronavirus, with the lighting of the flame due to take place in Greece next week.
Japan's Olympics minister revealed on Tuesday, that Tokyo's contract with the IOC allowed for the Games to be postponed until later this year.
At the press briefing in Geneva, Bach fended off a barrage of questions about whether the Olympics could possibly be suspended.
The admission 24 hours earlier from Japan's Olympics minister perhaps forced Bach into a hastily arranged and unscheduled statement, in which he tried to make clear his confidence the event would proceed as planned, and urged athletes to prepare "full steam".
Tokyo 2020 mascot
At his news conference the next day, Thomas Bach struck an even more defiant tone.
He refuted claims of having a Plan B, refused to be drawn on when any decision could be made and remarkably insisted that the words "cancellation" and "postponement" were not even mentioned during the meeting.
Should the Tokyo Olympics be cancelled, the biggest losers would be the insurance industry, which would face hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of claims from broadcasters, advertisers, sponsors, hotels, and of course the local organisers themselves, all trying to limit the losses they would incur to the bearest minimum.
Japan, which may have insurance for lost ticket sales, but would be unable to reclaim the estimated £10bn it has spent on infrastructure and preparation for the Games over the past seven years as it tries to use the event as a means of kickstarting a recovery from the 2011 Tohoku disaster. And it is too late to scale back now. The investment has been made. The loss in tourism revenue would also be a major blow to the country's struggling economy.
And finally the athletes, men and women who have spent years dreaming of and training for the Games. For many, Tokyo will be their only chance of experiencing the Olympics.
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