1. So when will the games begin?
That is still unclear. Beyond 2020 but no later than summer 2021. That’s what the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers said in a statement announcing the unprecedented postponement on March 24.
2. Is it a straightforward switch?
Hardly. It raises numerous logistical headaches, from how to treat athletes who already qualified for the world’s biggest multisports event to the status of tickets and sponsorships already sold. A raft of sponsorship agreements are set to expire in 2020. Then there are possible clashes with other sporting events, such as the 2021 global track-and-field championships in Eugene, Oregon, which may now be moved to 2022. The scale of next year’s Olympics also has yet to be decided, according to the senior Japanese organizer. That implies not all of the 339 events in 33 sports are assured a place.
3. Might the Olympics be canceled?
Not according to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. While postponement is a painful blow, it’s far preferable to cancellation for organizers, sponsors, broadcasters and others that have billions of dollars invested in the games. Japan has spent an estimated $26 billion on preparations and calling the games off could knock about 1.4% from gross domestic product, Nikko Securities Inc. Chief Economist Junichi Makino wrote in a recent research note.
4. What will postponement cost?
A one-year delay would trigger about 641 billion yen ($5.8 billion) in economic losses, according to an estimate by Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an honorary professor at Japan’s Kansai University. A large part of the economic stimulus may have already been delivered by the massive infrastructure spending laid out to get Tokyo ready for the games.
5. Has an Olympics ever been called off?
Five Olympic Games were scrapped, all because of World War: The summer games were canceled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 as were the winter games in 1940 and 1944. The 1940 games were initially postponed, but then canceled.
6. Why not call it Tokyo 2021?
Organizers said they want the games to stand as a beacon of hope and the Olympic flame to become the ”light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.” Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan and the event will keep the name Tokyo 2020, according to the March 24 statement.
7. Were there any other options?
The World Health Organization and sports federations discussed the possibility of staging the event without spectators, the New York Times reported. Keeping fans out in this way has never happened at an Olympics, but multiple major sporting events including Japanese sumo wrestling have in recent weeks gone ahead “behind closed doors.” Given the global spread of the coronavirus, there were no realistic alternative venues. The only time an Olympics got switched was when the 1976 winter games were moved to Innsbruck, Austria, from Denver after locals protested spiraling costs.
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