The organisers of the Tokyo Olympics announced on Monday that the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year.
Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese organisers had decided on postponing the Olympics until 2021 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s games were scheduled to begin on July 24 and close on August 9. But the near exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on August 8.
There had been talk of switching the Olympics to the spring, but it would have clashed with European soccer and North American sports leagues and was hence ruled out.
After holding out for weeks, local organisers and the IOC decided on postponing the Tokyo Games last week under pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies and sports federations. It is the first postponement in Olympic history, though there were several cancellations due to war.
The Tokyo organising committee president Yoshiro Mori and CEO Toshiro Muto have said the cost of rescheduling will be massive — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.
Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs, and testing times deciding how they are divided up.
"Since it (the Olympics) were scheduled for this summer, all the venues had given up hosting any other events during this time, so how do we approach that?" Muto asked.
"In addition, there will need to be guarantees when we book the new dates, and there is a possibility this will incur rent payments. So there will be costs incurred and we will need to consider them one by one. I think that will be the tougher process."
Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of sports economics at Kansai University, puts the costs as high as $4 billion. That would cover the price of maintaining stadiums, refitting them, paying rentals, penalties and other expenses.
Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organise the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are twice that much. All of the spending is public money except $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget.
The Switzerland-based IOC is contributing $1.3 billion, according to organising committee documents. The IOC’s contribution goes into the operating budget.