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Delaying Olympics will involve ‘massive’ costs, organisers say

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Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said the challenge was unprecedented © AFP / Behrouz MEHRI

TOKYO, Japan, Mar 26 – Rescheduling the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will involve “massive” additional costs, organisers of the Games conceded Thursday as they convened a taskforce to begin working on the “unprecedented” and complex task.

The historic decision to postpone the Games over the new coronavirus outbreak leaves organisers with a logistical headache as they work to shift the enormous event to an as-yet-undecided date next year.

“One by one, we need to ensure the problems we face can be solved,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said in opening remarks at the first meeting of the taskforce.

“Additional expenses are going to be quite massive we assume. With regards to our revenues, we need to make a lot of effort there,” he added.

Muto gave no estimates for how much the process of postponing the Olympic and Paralympic Games could cost.

But according to the Nikkei daily, organisers estimate it will cost an extra $2.7 billion, including for venue rentals, rebooking hotels and additional payments for staff and security guards, among others.

Those costs could still come down depending on the outcome of negotiations, the business daily reported.

Muto said organisers would not rip up their existing plans, but added: “I guess we need to step back a bit.”

“Sometimes you need to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

The Olympics have never faced this much disruption in peacetime, and the decision to delay the event has created unprecedented challenges, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said.

Tokyo 2020 staff “will experience difficulties they have never experienced before. I am sure they will rise to the occasion. This is going to be a very difficult task that we are facing,” he said.

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No deadlines have yet been set for the rescheduling of the Games, which are now due to take place by summer 2021, but Mori said he would ensure “all the decisions are made as quickly as possible”.

Muto underscored the scale of the task ahead, saying even he “didn’t imagine at all we would be tested to this degree”.

“We want to make sure we go beyond this test and that next year in Tokyo, the torch is lit for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We believe this is the mission we face.”

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