March 10, 2020 / 5:26 PM / 4 months ago

Olympics official discusses possibility of postponing Games by one or two years

The upcoming Summer Olympics likely would be postponed one or two years if they do not go on as scheduled due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, a member of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s executive board told The Wall Street Journal.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, walks in front of giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/File Photo

Haruyuki Takahashi told the newspaper in an article published Tuesday that other options — such as playing the Games without spectators or canceling them entirely — would have substantial financial ramifications. Thus, a postponement would be the best option if the Games do not begin as scheduled.

“I don’t think the Games could be canceled. It’d be a delay,” Takahashi told The Wall Street Journal. “The International Olympic Committee would be in trouble if there’s a cancellation. American TV rights alone provide them with a huge amount.”

International Olympic Committee organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said last month that the Olympic Games — which begin July 24 — are expected to go on as scheduled.

“I would like to make it clear again that we are not considering a cancellation or postponement of the games. Let me make that clear,” Mori told top IOC officials in Tokyo on Feb. 13.

Should a postponement be considered, however, it would cost a pretty penny for NBC. The network, which owns the Olympic broadcasting rights in the United States, announced last week that it has already secured $1.25 billion in advertising revenue ahead of The Games.

While money plays a significant role in decisions, it should be noted that the spread of the coronavirus has already had a significant impact on international sports around the world.

In Japan, preseason baseball games have been played at empty stadiums. Officials of Nippon Professional Baseball announced Monday that the season, originally scheduled to open on March 20, will not get underway until some time in April at the earliest.

CNN reported Tuesday that the coronavirus has caused 26 deaths in the United States, with 732 known cases. Worldwide, more than 4,000 people have died and more 113,000 people have been infected.

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