The historic decision Tuesday to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for about a year due to the coronavirus pandemic is likely to cause further difficulties for the organizers.
"To postpone the Olympic Games is not like postponing a football match to the following Saturday," warned Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), recently. Here are some examples to give an idea of the magnitude of the puzzle.
- The sports calendar -
It all depends on the final dates of the postponement, but adding the Olympic Games to an already full 2021 sports calendar promises to be a logistical nightmare for athletes, organizers and broadcasters alike.
Certainly, the international athletics federation has already said it is ready to postpone its world championships, initially scheduled for August 2021 in the United States, and the International Swimming Federation will study "the flexibility of the dates" of its Worlds-2021 , scheduled for July-August 2021 in Fukuoka (Japan). It remains to tune the violins with the Euro football, which has already been rescheduled in a year.
American sprint legend Carl Lewis had suggested hosting the 2022 Summer Games in conjunction with the Beijing Winter Games to create an "Olympic celebration year".
- Site management -
For the Tokyo Games, 43 sites have been planned, some built for the occasion, sometimes temporarily, others redeveloped. The postponement of the Olympic Games will pose problems for each of them.
Because according to the IOC, "several essential sites for the Games may no longer be available afterwards".
This is the case, for example, of the new Tokyo Olympic stadium, with a capacity of 68,000, which will host concerts and other sports competitions after the Games. Events that will now have to be rescheduled in turn.
Sports infrastructures are not the only ones concerned. This summer, the organizers have reserved the imposing Tokyo Big Sight, a huge convention and exhibition center, to make it a gigantic press room during the Games.
This welcoming site, one of the largest trade fairs in Asia, is booked many months in advance. Finding free dates or convincing the organizers of other events to change the date could be complicated.
- The Olympic Village -
Composed of 21 towers from 14 to 18 floors, the Olympic village was built on land with high real estate value, overlooking the bay of Tokyo and its famous Rainbow Bridge.
At the end of the Olympic Games-2020, the Olympic village was to be converted into thousands of high-end apartments intended for sale or rental.
According to the site promoters, 4,145 apartments must be sold. Of a first batch of 940 homes put up for sale in the summer of 2019, most have already been bought, according to local press.
A postponement of the Olympic Games to 2021 will therefore cause a delay in the redevelopment of the site and serious uncertainties about the sales contracts already signed.
- Accommodation -
"The question of the millions of nights already booked in hotels is very difficult to manage," acknowledged the IOC.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the problem related to the lack of hotel capacity. There was talk of docking a cruise ship to fix it.
Hotel rooms in Tokyo have mostly been booked for several months, forcing many visitors to pay large amounts in advance, and are now at risk of being lost.
For the hotel industry, the postponement is an additional blow in an already catastrophic 2020 tourism context due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
© 2020 AFP