Updated: March 12, 2020 10:22:10 pm
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics should be postponed for one year, US President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday.
Trump on the Tokyo Olympics: “Maybe they postpone it for a year. … I like that better than I like having empty stadiums all over the place. I think if you cancel it and make it a year later, that’s a better alternative than doing it with no crowd.” pic.twitter.com/uKwgYwBonr
— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) March 12, 2020
“I can’t imagine holding them without spectators,” news agency Reuters quoted him as saying.
The biggest question the coronavirus pandemic has elicited with regards to the 2020 sports calendar remains the Olympics in Japan, where competition is scheduled to begin July 22.
Holding the Olympics without spectators, and having to refund ticket sales, could cost Tokyo organizers some $850 million, according to the organizing committee’s budget documents.
Tokyo is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, although a national government audit office says it’s at least twice that much. The local organizing committee budget of $5.6 billion is private money, with the rest coming from Japanese taxpayers. About $1 billion in the local operating budget is to come from ticket sales, which would be lost if the games go ahead without fans in empty stadiums.
The IOC has said repeatedly the games will go on, and says it relies on advice from the World Health Organization. The WHO, the U.N. health agency, has so far resisted describing the crisis as a “pandemic,” which could force the IOC’s hand. But many experts say that threshold has already been met.
The United States is one of the biggest participants in the Games, which are scheduled for July.
Japanese officials have sought to squash speculation that the event could be canceled or postponed amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 126,000 people in more than 110 countries have been infected. The vast majority are in just four countries: China and South Korea where new cases are declining and Iran and Italy, where they are not. More than 4,600 people have died worldwide.
(With agency inputs)
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