TOKYO – One thing is certain: Tokyo organizers want to somehow simplify next year's postponed Olympics to keep costs down.
Estimates in Japan say the delay alone could cost $2 billion to $6 billion, most of which will be absorbed by Japanese taxpayers.
But how to do it and where to cut or reduce is still unclear. And there's unlikely to be anything concrete until the fall, when organizers hope that science will better understand the coronavirus pandemic and measures Tokyo needs to take against it.
“We together with the IOC, we have begun to review the service levels that we originally planned for," Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, said Wednesday in Tokyo after an online meeting with the International Olympic Committee executive board in Switzerland. “We are in the process of identifying more than 200 items that simplification could exist.”
As he has done for 2 1/2 months since the Olympics were postponed, Muto offered nothing concrete and no examples of what might be downsized.
“We have not gone to the level or stage where we have complete ideas about what we can do in simplifying the games," Muto said.
Items rumored for cuts or reductions include the torch relay, and perhaps combining the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Muto, a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, also declined to give numbers about the cost of the delay, or any savings from cuts or downsizing.
“I don’t think the current situation warrants us to give you exact numbers to your question — how much budget and how much can be reduced due to simplification," he said.
Yoshiro Mori, the president of the organizing committee and a former Japanese prime minister, also spoke in generalities.
But he suggested that the core of the Olympics — the sports — would not face cutbacks. The target seems to be bloated fringe areas.
“At this juncture, I am not able to say concretely what kind of games we are planning,” Mori said. “What I am saying, is going forward we are going to listen, study and discuss what the games should be. How the games should be."
Mori was asked about fans. Will there be fans, limited fans, or none at all?
“Spectators are very important,” he said. “So in relation to COVID-19, how will it be contained doing forward? We'll consider that aspect as well.”
He was clear about one thing. He sees the Olympics opening on July 23, 2021.
“I'd like to answer your question regarding a cancellation," he said to a reporter. “We've never discussed cancellation. It is not right to discuss this based on speculation. We are not considering a cancellation at all.”
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