Tokyo 2020 postponement could cost £5bn, new research suggests
By Rebecca Williams, Sky Sports Reporter
Last Updated: 22/07/20 1:37pm
The cost of postponing the Olympic Games, due to coronavirus, could be in the region of £5bn, according to researchers at Kansai University in Japan.
Tokyo 2020 was due to get underway this week, but has been pushed back a year, as the world comes to terms with the new normal.
While there are mixed opinions on what the true economic impact of the postponement will be, Professor Emeritus Katsuhiro Miyamoto at Kansai University in Japan believes it will be significant, in the region of £4.7bn. That includes things like maintaining the athletes' village and stadiums for a year as well as hosting new qualifying events for the athletes.
Billions had been spent on what was billed as the eco-games. A new stadium was event built in Japan to host what was expected to be one of the greatest shows on earth. The hope was that the Olympics would help boost the country's economy, as well as helping to redevelop more deprived areas.
During lockdown, athletes have had to find innovative ways of training.
Gymnast and five-time Olympic medallist, Max Whitlock turned his sofa into a pommel horse, Katarina Johnson-Thompson created a heptathlon around the house, golfer, Justin Rose perfected his putting on an indoor golfing green and sprint canoeist, Liam Heath, who won gold in Rio, practised on a paddle machine while the waterways were closed.
Heath told Sky Sports News: "I don't think you ever think you are going to be in this kind of situation. It has been a real challenge for everyone trying to adapt, but as an elite athlete that is something you are quite good at, adapting to different scenarios, venues and trying to overcome obstacles with ingenuity."
But some are warning that the postponement could seriously affect their Olympic dream.
Hurdler, Dai Greene captained the Great Britain's athletics team at London 2012, but missed out on Rio due to injury. He was in great shape in the lead up to Tokyo and was looking forward to what was likely to be his last chance at an Olympic medal. He just hopes a year's delay doesn't affect that.
"When you get to the ages of 31, 32 and 33, you know you've only got a finite amount of time left in the sport," he said.
"You don't know when your body is going to give out. You don't know when you won't be able to recover from sessions. I'm obviously nearing that point at 34 at the moment, but I'm trying not to focus on that as a negative."
The Olympics has only been cancelled three times in recent history and that was due to World War I and World War II.
Indeed, there are still concerns that the Tokyo Games won't be able to go ahead at all, if a vaccine isn't found by next year.
With 11,000 athletes due to travel from all over the world, along with thousands of coaching staff and tourists, it would be a high risk environment. The International Olympic Committee insists countermeasures are in place and they will only organise the Games in a safe environment for everyone involved.
Team GB has already lost millions, but its focus is on preparing athletes for next year, not worrying about a possible cancellation.
Chef de Mission, Mark England, said: "The unknown is the effect of Covid-19 in 2021. So at the moment we have about 300 of what we are predicted will qualify for the games. They are in good shape and their qualification and quota places are secured.
"What I can say is we are pretty buoyant about still having more women than men in Team GB for the first time ever and I think that's a great story...
"There won't be any qualification events to run until athletes can train and compete appropriately and fairly and in a healthy and safe environment. So we will see how that roles out. Athletes have until June 23rd next year to qualify, so we have a few months to see how the pandemic pans out across the globe."
Most athletes are now getting back to their normal training routines. But for those involved in combat or team sports, like boxing, rowing and judo, it is likely to take a little longer.