July 23, 2021 is the likely new opening date for the Tokyo Olympic Games, reports say, after it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Japanese state broadcaster NHK and the New York Times both reported that date as the International Olympic Committee’s target for the opening ceremony, which will be exactly one year on from the originally scheduled programme.
Olympic organisers appear to be leaning away from starting the rescheduled games in the northern spring of 2021, with organising committee president Yoshiro Mori suggesting there would be no major change from 2020.
“The games are meant to be in summer, so we should be thinking of a time between June and September,” Japanese news agency Kyodo reported Mori saying.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, after the postponement was announced in Switzerland last Tuesday, left open the possibility of spring dates in a potential window of late April until August.
The postponed games were to have opened on July 24 and closed on August 9. Mori suggested some decisions could be made as early as this week when the organising committee’s executive board meets.
An almost identical date would be the best time for the broadcaster NBC which pays more than US$1 billion (NZ$1.66b) for the US media rights to each Olympic Games.
Any final decision will be made between local organisers and the IOC, and hundreds of sponsors, sports federations and broadcasters as they try to squeeze the Games into a packed sporting calendar. Football’s Euro 2020 tournament was also postponed for one year and will open on June 11, 2021.
Athletes have been left in limbo by the postponement. Many have been forced to stop training because of the spreading coronavirus. Even those who can train have no idea about how to schedule training to reach peak fitness at the right time.
Mori and organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto have both said the added cost of rescheduling will be “enormous.” Early estimates put those costs at between US$2-3 billion with the several levels of Japanese governments likely to foot most of the bills.
Tokyo organisers say they are spending US$12.6 billion to stage the games. However, a government audit report said it will cost at least twice that much. All but US$5.6 billion is public money.
The Switzerland-based IOC has contributed US$1.3 billion to organise the Tokyo Olympics, according to local organising committee documents. It has a reserve fund of about US$2 billion for such emergencies and also has insurance coverage.
– AP, Stuff