Spainflyer, thanks for the good discussion.
Some comments and a few answers that I can provide to your questions.
1. The IOC doesn't owe the Japanese Government. Financially speaking, money flows to the IOC from broadcasters. Part of it has been paid, part of it is due to be paid as the Games are over. If the Games do not happen, technically the IOC owes the broadcasters a ton of money that has been paid. But, as you know from the host city contract, in theory the Japanese Government can't cancel the Games. So technically speaking, if the Japanese Government takes the "illegal" action of cancelling the Games, well, one might deem them responsible to pay the IOC so that they can return the money to broadcasters.
2. Just like you i am for the cancellation of the Games and a complete change in the Olympics, but I always find these discussions on the host city losses not only naive, but also not deep enough as they usually fail to consider the intangible benefits of the Olympics. In the case of Japan much is spoken about the Games showcasing a country that is recovering from Fukushima, from decades of economic stagnation, and now, from Covid. Few will disagree that the 2008 Games helped a ton to showcase China as a power in the world. Barcelona became the world's most visited city after 2008. Then there are the local benefits. Think of London 2012, which was organised in an area not as nice in the city, or even better, Rio 2016. I think it was the best participation of Brazil ever, and I remember reading an article, I think about a Judo woman and a men boxer, both gold medallists, and the impact they had for the kids that lived in slums nearby the venue. How much is worth a few kids that would go to crime and turn to the sport instead? Difficult to measure. Does it justifies the megalomaniac of the Olympics and the lots of wrongdoings of the IOC, corruption scandals and overrun costs? Of course not. It doesn't justify the Games happening in the midst of the pandemic when the Japanese people doesn't want it. But the discussion is much more complex than how sometimes the media portraits.
3. The network is not ready for the potential increase of cases that Olympics might generate including the treatment of delegations, broadcasters, Olympic Family and others. That's why there's some push from Japanese nurses and doctors as we've seen in the past few weeks.
4. Correct that last year some National Olympic Committees pushed for postponement. There was a reason for that, other than the clear insecurities of the pandemic: the fact that there was an insurance in place to be activated, and as it was activated, most of the money was secured. The situation is way different now - cancelling will implicate huge losses for International Federations and National Olympic Committees.
Thanks, Olympic Insider. All very well reasoned. A couple of comments and questions:
A cancellation…will cost billions.
Clearly this is true. Of course, many of the Japanese who had hoped to profit from the Games (hoteliers, restaurant owners, tourism and transport companies) are not going to make anything like what they had hoped, or perhaps anything at all.
The Japanese Government in theory can't (cancel).
My question – asked in all innocence and ignorance – is how much is the Japanese state due to make from the Games? Clearly Japan is financing most of the preparations, including the Olympic village, but are they due something from the IOC once the Games are over? If not, what financial incentive would the Japanese government have at this pointfor going ahead?
Or is it rather the other way round? If the Games are cancelled, Japan owes the IOC for its “losses?” One could argue that, up until now, the IOC has incurred relatively few expenses, and is counting on media revenue to set themselves up for the next four years. If there is no media event (i.e. Games) to broadcast, is it fair that Japan might have to make the IOC whole?
Japan is reluctant to cancel because of rivalry with Winter Games host China.
I suspect this is a powerful motivator for Tokyo, especially as the JOC and the Japanese government know that, given their track record with Covid, China will not cancel or postpone the Winter Games, no matter how dire the pandemic situation might be.
Broadcasters will of course not push for cancellation.
This goes without saying. But if the Games do go ahead, clearly there will be hiccups. The 13-hour time difference between Tokyo and the US East Coast means that events will be broadcast in the early morning hours in the US, or that they will be presented on tape delay. This happened with Sydney and the complaints were loud. The US audience may not be as large as expected / hoped for.
NBC, the US media outlet, sent more than 2000 professionals to cover the Rio Olympics. It would seem that, given the restrictions on movement in Tokyo, they might need even more people on the ground in July. Is the network ready to take responsibility for any health issues its staff might have or develop? Especially given the recent US State Department highest level warning: “Don’t Go.” Lawsuits are a national sport in the US. Just to consider…
Athletes (push for cancellation)?
A few individuals – including Japan’s high-profile tennis star Naomi Osaka and Spain’s Rafa Nadal – have made not-so-veiled comments that they might not compete. But you are right, the athletes are among the healthiest people on the planet and really face very little risk. The danger, it seems to me, would be if an athlete (or other member of the “Olympic family”) were to contract the virus and seek treatment or hospitalization ahead of Japanese citizens, there might be some grumbling. With people dying of Covid in their homes in Japan because there are no beds left at hospitals, a televised scene of (insert famous athlete here) being admitted to hospital would not be a popular one.
National Olympic Committees won't cancel for the same reasons the IOC won't - massive money-losing for them.
I do understand this, but it was in fact national OCs that began the pull-out last year, leading to the postponement of Tokyo 2020. But we now know a lot more about Covid than we did a year ago, including treatment options (thanks, Trump) so perhaps worry on the parts of sports authorities has diminished.
The ones with the power to cancel it: the people of Japan and especially Tokyo. But it needs to be something massive. Massive protests, massive riots, something that is not possible to ignore, both by the mainstream media, Government officials and even the IOC.
And this, as has been observed on this string, is not really part of Japanese culture, so I wouldn’t count on it. But if holding the games can be shown to be a major vote-loser for Prime Minister Suga and his party this might tip the balance back toward considering cancellation.
So, here we are, in the last week of May, when some had predicted that the announcement that the announcement would be made for cancellation. And yet, odds of the Games being held seem to be increasing. I would now see the chances of holding the Olympic Games as scheduled at about 65% and the initiative seems to be with the IOC. The athletes have had a year of frustration with reduced training options. National OCs have not spoken up loudly. And Thomas Bach continues to repeat his mantra: “Safe…Secure…Successful.” No problem.