Tokyo Olympics delay costs may reach $2.8 billion

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Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori delivers a speech after an opening plenary session of the three-party meeting on Tokyo 2020 Games additional costs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Tokyo, Friday, Dec 4, 2020. (Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO – The cost of the postponement for the Tokyo Olympics could reach about $2.8 billion, according to figures released Friday by the Tokyo organizing committee, the Tokyo city government and Japan’s national government.

The numbers are in line with estimates made in Japan since the Olympics were postponed eight months ago. The games are now set to open on July 23, 2021.

About two-thirds of the added costs are being picked up by the two government entities, with the other one-third going to the privately funded organizing committee.

Few of Tokyo's added costs — or the overall costs — are covered by the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee, which relies largely on public coffers to hold its events. Its revenue is generated largely by selling broadcast rights and sponsorships.

“I think our biggest challenge is the additional costs,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said during an online news conference. “This is a crucial issue in order for us to prepare for the Olympics. We need to gain the understanding and sympathy of the people of Tokyo and the people of Japan.”

As the costs for Tokyo keep rising, it may reinforce skepticism about the wisdom of holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic. Recent polls show the Japanese public is divided on the issue of the Olympics, and any move to permit fans from abroad to enter despite a vaccine being on the horizon.

Japan has controlled the pandemic better than most countries with about 2,200 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in a country of 125 million.

The University of Oxford published a study three months ago that said the Tokyo Games are the most expensive Summer Olympics on record. And that research was done before the games were postponed by COVID-19.