TOKYO — Tokyo Olympic organizers seem to be leaning away from starting the rescheduled games in the spring of 2021. More and more the signs point toward the summer of 2021.
Organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori suggested 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 on Saturday.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, after the postponement was announced in Switzerland on Tuesday, left open the possibility of spring dates.
The postponed games were to have opened on July 24 and closed on Aug. 9. Mori suggested some decisions could be made as early as this week when the organizing committee’s executive board meets.
Any final decision will be made by local organizers and the IOC, and hundreds of sponsors, sports federations and broadcasters.
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 organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto have both said the added cost of rescheduling will be “enormous.” Early estimates put those costs at between $2 billion-$3 billion with the several levels of Japanese governments likely to foot most of the bills.
Tokyo organizers say they are spending $12.6 billion to stage the games. However, a government audit report said it will cost at least twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.
The Switzerland-based IOC has contributed $1.3 billion to organize the Tokyo Olympics, according to local organizing committee documents. It has a reserve fund of about $2 billion for such emergencies and also has insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, Visa has told its global roster of Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls their sponsorships will be extended into 2021, providing some financial certainty amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The credit card giant’s Team Visa scheme features 96 athletes across 27 sports, including soccer star Megan Rapinoe, gymnast Simone Biles — a quadruple gold medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Games — and two-time defending 800-meter Olympic champion David Rudisha.
The athletes were contacted on Friday to be given the option of extending their sponsorship terms with Visa. It is the first clear commitment by a major sponsor to extend such sponsorship support after the unprecedented delay to the Olympics by a year was announced last week by the IOC.
“We elected to stand behind our roster of Team Visa athletes and make sure they knew affirmatively we were planning to do so and that we were going to offer to extend our relationship with them into 2021,” Chris Curtin, Visa’s chief brand and innovation marketing officer, told The Associated Press. “They’re all dealing with how do they maintain their training schedules, discipline and focus at the same time they’re dealing with what’s happening with their families and their loved ones. One thing that we wanted to do as Visa was to take one potential point of ambiguity and maybe concern off their plates, because there should be none.”