Tokyo Games won't provide much economic stimulus for Japan

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Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori, left, and CEO Toshiro Muto, right, attend teleconference with International Olympic Committee member John Coates, who heads the inspection team for Tokyo Olympics, in Tokyo Thursday, April 16, 2020. Tokyo Olympic organizers and the IOC said Thursday they will cut some of the extras out of next years postponed games, an attempt to limit what is expected to be billions of dollars in added expenses.(Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO – IOC member John Coates, who oversees planning for next year's Tokyo Olympics, has claimed the postponed games could help “kick start” Japan’s economy.

Japan has been devastated like many countries by the coronavirus pandemic and could be in a recession when the Olympics are to open on July 23, 2021.

“These games are a very positive opportunity for an economic stimulus," Coates said in a teleconference on Thursday with the Tokyo organizing committee. “These games can help kick start the economy again. These games could be the rebirth of the tourism industry."

Coates also praised Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling him a “very, very smart man.” He said Abe also viewed the games next year as providing an economic stimulus.

But economists and Olympic researchers contacted by The Associated Press on Friday said any economic boost will be negligible given the size of Japan’s $5 trillion economy and the limited tourism and economic benefits from the 17-day games.

In some previous Olympics, soaring prices and crowding have discouraged tourists instead of attracting them.

“His predictions fly in the face of all the research on the financial impacts of hosting the games ‘on a good day’ — and the current global crisis does not qualify as ‘a good day,'” Helen Lenskyj, a professor emerita at the University of Toronto, said in an email.

Lenskyj has written eight books on the Olympics, including her most recent — “The Olympic Games: A Critical Approach." She suggested Japan would be better off if it did not have to finance next year's games.