With the ongoing uncertainty about the coronavirus pandemic, the CEO of the Tokyo Olympics said Friday he is unsure the Games will be held in 2021.
On March 30, organizers announced new dates for the Games to begin July 23, 2021 — almost one year after this summer’s event was scheduled to take place until the coronavirus pandemic uprooted plans.
“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” Toshiro Muto said via a translator during a press conference. “We’re certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.”
“We have made the decision to postpone the games by one year,” Muto added. “So this means that all we can do is work hard to prepare for the games. We sincerely hope that come next year mankind will manage to overcome the coronavirus crisis.”
When asked if alternative plans are in place, Muto responded, “Rather than think about alternatives plans, we should put in all of our effort. Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can develop treatments, medicines and vaccines.”
There is currently no cure for the coronavirus and health experts said trials for potential vaccines could last over a year.
The price of the postponement on organizers has been estimated to be in the billions, with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers, according to the Associated Press. Muto said during the press conference that organizers have taken out “several” insurance policies, but added, “Whether the postponement of the games qualifies as an event that is covered is not clear yet.”
The event had already been set to cost $28 billion, with 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries due to compete in dozens of sports.
The postponement will also alter plans by networks and brands with advertising and marketing commitments linked to the games. By last December, host network NBC had already surpassed $1 billion in advertising sales for the Games and was well on the way to topping the $1.2 billion in ad sales from 2016’s Olympics in Rio.
The postponement of the 2020 Games to 2021 will heavily impact broadcaster NBC’s ratings this year, and the sporting event was supposed to be the crown jewel in the launch of their streaming service Peacock this July.
The Associated Press first reported this story.