Countering virus will balloon Tokyo 2020 bill

TOKYO • Tokyo Games organisers estimate the cost of Covid-19 countermeasures for next year's delayed Olympics to run to around 100 billion yen (S$1.28 billion), Kyodo News reported yesterday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun had said a day earlier that the total cost of delaying the Games for a year would run to 200 billion yen. It added that countermeasures will be primarily handled and paid for by the Japanese government.

When asked to comment on the Kyodo report, a spokesman said an announcement would be made on an interim report following talks between Tokyo 2020 organisers, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Japanese government tomorrow.

The last official budget given by the organising committee last December, months before the Games were postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, had been US$12.9 billion (S$17.25 billion).

Of this, the organising committee was due to cover US$5.8 billion, with the revenue for this budget coming from sponsorships, ticket sales, marketing and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The rest will be taxpayers' money from the national government to the tune of US$1.4 billion and US$5.7 billion from the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Associated Press reported.

The IOC added that it expects to pay US$800 million in additional costs from the delay but has yet to firm up the details.

When Tokyo clinched the winning bid in 2013, it claimed the Games would cost US$7.3 billion but costs have since spiralled well beyond the initial budget.

Even before the delay and the subsequent Covid-19 countermeasures, the cost of staging Tokyo 2020 had already surpassed the past two Games. London 2012 and Rio 2016 cost £8.92 billion (S$15.9 billion) and 43.3 billion reais (S$10.9 billion) respectively.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics are still the most expensive Summer Games at US$40 billion (S$53.5 billion), but most of that capital invested was spent on infrastructure, unlike for Tokyo.

The organising committee is expected to officially announce an adjusted budget before next year.

  • US$7.1b

    Bill to be footed by Japanese taxpayers for the rearranged Tokyo Olympics.

Had aspects of the Games not been simplified, like the scrapping of athlete welcome ceremonies, the extra costs could have been as much as 300 billion yen before the cost of countermeasures were taken into account.

John Coates, the chairman of the IOC coordination commission, has promised that the Athletes' Village will be the "safest place in Tokyo" during the Games.

In order to pull that off, organisers currently estimate a daily maximum of 5,000 Covid-19 tests to be carried out from July 23-Aug 8.

There will also be no late night parties or nights out. On top of safe distancing measures, organisers are looking to limit competitors' stays in the athletes' village.

Asked if athletes would also be told to refrain from sightseeing, Coates said last week: "Yes. Staying longer increases the potential for problems."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2020, with the headline 'Countering virus will balloon Tokyo 2020 bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe