Olympic Games CEO Toshiro Muto: Tokyo Games May Not Be Conventional

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TOKYO – Almost two months after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said on Friday that he still cannot estimate the cost of the one-year delay.

Figures in the Japanese media range from $ 2 billion to $ 6 billion, with most of the growing expenses to be covered by government entities.

Although he is vague about the costs and who will pay, Muto was very clear on one thing at the online press conference.

“The actual games we will have in a year may not be the same Olympic and Paralympic Games we have come to know,” he said, speaking in Japanese and translating by interpreter.

Muto circulated ideas about the cuts everywhere, although the only specific target he mentioned was the torch relay.

“We are studying all possible areas,” he said. “It’s time for all of us to go over the basics of the games. What are the essential items? … I think we could offer new Olympic and Paralympic Games, something that is unique to Tokyo. “

The future of Tokyo has even more questions than answers.

How will 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympians be accommodated in the Athletes’ Village? Will narrow neighborhoods be safe? How will they travel to Tokyo? How are they going to train and qualify? What about thousands of other staff and game officials?

Will there be fans or will it be a TV-only show? What about the millions of tickets already sold? Will there be refunds? Will a vaccine be available? Will healthy young athletes be a priority for a vaccine?

Muto spoke a day after the Swiss-based International Olympic Committee acknowledged that it would have added costs of $ 800 million due to the postponement. The IOC has said that $ 150 million will be made available for loans to National Olympic Committees and sports federations, some of which have few sources of income outside of the Games.

But the IOC gave no details on the destination of the remaining $ 650 million.

Muto said he didn’t know either. Or at least he didn’t say it.

“Regarding the distribution of the use of this money, the IOC said it was too early to say,” said Muto. “So, at the organizing committee, we have no idea of ​​all the details of how this money will be spent. “

Soaring Olympic costs will certainly be a touchy subject as Japan, like most countries, is battling a deep recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Japanese organizers and government agencies are required by contract with the host city signed in 2013 to cover most of the Olympic costs. When they won the games seven years ago, Tokyo officials said the Olympics would cost just over $ 7 billion.

Tokyo now says it spends $ 12.6 billion on hosting the games, but a government audit report last year said it was twice as much.

All but $ 5.6 billion are public funds.

Muto said organizers are still trying to guarantee that 43 venues will be available next year, hoping to keep the same schedule of events when the Olympics open on July 23, 2021.

“It’s going to take a little while,” said Muto, “and it can’t be helped. “

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