Olympics boss admits Tokyo 2020 must be rescheduled ‘as soon as possible’ and could be held outside of summer
Thomas Bach has set a deadline to complete the 2020 Olympic Games by the end of summer 2021 but admits there are numerous issues for the IOC to resolve before a date can be set
Bach confirmed alongside Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori that this summer’s Olympics will now take place between the start of 2021 and the end of next summer due to the coronavirus outbreak, although the Games will officially be known at Tokyo 2020 due to copyright and merchandising reasons.
In a conference call on Wednesday, Bach was not able to shed any light on where the IOC see the Games slotting in next year, with Euro 2020 also moved to next year and the World Athletics Championship due to take place – although the World Athletics are prepared to move their event to accommodate the Olympics.
“We have to see with them what the options are,” Bach said. “After having consulted with them we also have to take into account the sporting calendar around the Olympic Games and many, many other issues.
“We should come to a solution as soon as possible, but first priority should be the quality of the decision, to really be able to take the input of all stakeholders into account.”
Bach confirmed that the IOC has formed a task force named ‘Here We Go’ to carry out the “challenging question” of finding the right time to reschedule the Olympic Games, with members of both the governing body’s co-ordination commission and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee included.
The cost of hosting the Olympics has already exceeded £10bn, with Japan building a new Olympic Stadium in the heart of Tokyo to stage the main track and field events, though while costs will now substantially increase there is solace in that all venues will be made available next year for the Games.
Bach said earlier this month that a postponement would “come at a cost” but explained on Tuesday that the final decision to do exactly that was “about protecting lives”, and Tokyo 2020 president Mori added that it was too soon to put a figure on how much the delay will cost the Japanese government and other stakeholders.
“The basic policy of postponement was decided (on Tuesday) day,” said Mori. “How exactly are we going to achieve the postponement? That will be discussed among the IOC, us and Tokyo. I am sure it will be very difficult.”
But the IOC’s former head of commercial, Michael Payne, believes that the losses on the postponement should not be too great for the IOC to handle.
“Provided the event takes place, the broadcast partners get their three weeks of programming,” said Payne.
“You may be dealing with a little bit of re-engineering on the margin, but nothing of substance.”
One other predicament for the IOC and the Japanese government to resolve is that fact that residency within the Olympic Village has already been sold off to homeowners following the Games.
“This is one of the many thousands of questions this task force will have to address,” said Bach. “We hope and we will do whatever we can so that there is an Olympic village, the village is where the heart of the Games beat.”