The Games must go on…but at a lower cost and with less flash, officials are saying. More than 50 cost-cutting measures have been agreed upon by organisers and Olympic officials, less than a year before the virus-postponed event begins, an indication that budgets are tighter than ever before. Among some of the proposals are doing away with athlete welcoming ceremonies, no flashy spectacles, fewer free tickets given away and savings on banners, mascots and fireworks.
Despite the complications and extra costs of the delay, and continued uncertainty about how the massive international event can be held safely, International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates said cancellation was not an option. “It would have been very easy for you to say ‘this isn’t possible’,” he said via videolink after a meeting of organisers and Olympic officials in Tokyo and elsewhere. “But I think we all share the view that this has to be possible, this has to happen, because we cannot disregard a generation of Olympic athletes.”
Documents released by organisers painted a picture of a less-than-opulent event, with the size of behind-the-scenes delegations reduced by 10% – 15%, and perks cut back. The number of athletes will not be reduced, organisers pledged, but officials, press and others involved with the Games will be given fewer complimentary tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies, with changes to the usually dazzling contents of the events themselves under review.
“What was initially proposed (for the ceremonies) has been drastically changing,” acknowledged Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo organising committee. “Maybe it will end up a bit more modest and simple, but I hope it will be something that gives joy.”
The ‘Tokyo Model’
The 2020 Games were postponed earlier this year as the deadly new coronavirus spread around the globe, and are now set to open on 23 July 2021.
The latest budget is for US$12.6 billion, and costs are set to balloon further as venues and transport must be re-booked, and staff retained for an extra year. Other cost-cutting plans include giving athletes less time to train at venues, and consolidating security points, raising the possibility of longer queues for bag-checks. Presentation ceremonies to introduce each sport should be produced in “bare-minimum quality and quantity and welcoming ceremonies held for Olympic and Paralympic teams will be scrapped altogether.
Coates described the plans as a blueprint for “a new Games, fit for a post-corona world” that could be used in future. “We’re going to leave an important legacy which we’re calling the Tokyo Model,” he added.
There are signs that public enthusiasm in Japan is waning for the Olympics, however, after a recent poll found just one in four want them to go ahead next year, with most backing either another postponement or a cancellation.
Organisers and local officials are engaged in complex discussions about how to safely hold the Games if the pandemic is not under control. Coates said measures including regular testing and mandatory vaccination, if a vaccine is available by then, were among the possibilities.
Source: AFP Relax News