Tokyo Games won’t confirm added costs reported at USD3 billion

TOKYO (AP) — Organisers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics have declined to confirm widely circulated reports in Japan that the costs of the one-year postponement will be about USD3 billion.

The estimates have been published in the last several days by some of Japan’s top-circulation newspapers, the national broadcaster NHK, and the Japanese news agency Kyodo. All are citing similar figures and unidentified sources close to the games.

“We are in the process of assessing the additional costs associated with the postponement of the games due to COVID-19 and therefore are not able to comment on any details at this time,” Tokyo organisers said yesterday in a statement. The statement did not challenge any of the reports.

The Tokyo Games are becoming very expensive. The official cost of putting on the Tokyo Olympics is USD12.6 billion. However, a government audit last year said it was probably twice that much. All but USD5.6 billion is public money.

Tokyo said the games would cost USD7.3 billion when it won the bid in 2013.

The USD3 billion for the delay only adds to the totals. A University of Oxford study published early this year — calculated before the postponement — said Tokyo was the most expensive Summer Olympics on record and the meter is still running.

A man walks on a pedestrian bridge as a large display of Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics games are seen in Tokyo, Japan. PHOTO: AP

The Yomiuri newspaper and Kyodo on Sunday detailed added costs of about USD2 billion, to renegotiate venues leases, pay staff salaries, and cover other operational expenditure.

NHK and the Asahi newspaper yesterday said another USD1 billion was needed for countermeasures against COVID-19. This could include the cost of vaccines, rapid testing, and countless precautions to guard against the coronavirus.

The reported cost of the delay because of the pandemic is in line with repeated estimates of between USD2 billion and USD3 billion in Japan over the last several months.

The organisers, the Tokyo metro government and the Japanese national government are expected to explain added costs in December and detail how they will be shared.

Organisers in October said they had found cost-savings of about USD280 million by simplifying and cutting some frills from next year’s postponed games. This was about two per cent of the official costs.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it would chip in about USD650 million to cover some of the costs of the delay, but has offered few public details.

The Switzerland-based IOC is heavily dependent on revenue from selling broadcast rights, which account for almost three-quarters of its income.

The unprecedented postponement has put financial pressure on the IOC, national Olympic committees, and international sports federations that heavily rely on the IOC for sustenance.

They have been campaigning over the last several months to convince sponsors and a skeptical Japanese public that the Olympics can be held safely in the middle of a pandemic.

Domestic sponsors in Japan have paid a record of USD3.3 billion to organisers, but there are reports of some balking at further payments during the pandemic-caused economic slide.

The Olympics are to open on July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on August 24. They involve 15,400 athletes and thousands of officials, judges, staff, VIPs, sponsors as well as media and broadcasters.

Kyodo reported last week that the Japanese government may require visitors from abroad to have private health insurance to cover costs from any COVID-19 complications.