There is growing concern that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, which are set to begin July 24th, may be delayed or called off entirely. Growing concern amongst Japanese officials points to widespread growing angst, as the impact of calling off or postponing the Olympics would reach far beyond Tokyo. The chances of delay or cancelation are simply unknown, to be fair, but the uncertainty around the possible need to modify the schedule in the face of the worsening Coronavirus pandemic is real.
The impact would reach all corners of the globe in terms of the global economy. While public health is a must, there will obviously a great number of factors that will create various pressures to make conflicting decisions, with the severity of the outbreak in the next few months at center-stage. Consideration will certainly be given to the more than 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes, coaches and sports officials, along with Tokyo local organizers and government officials, and the more than 80,000 unpaid volunteers to begin with, while the games have a massive impact on the economic fortunes of airlines, hotels, sponsoring companies, and all kinds of local businesses.
Sponsorship spending which is at risk is at $3 billion dollars from companies including Coca-Cola, Bridgestone, Canon, Toyota Motors, and Panasonic, as is more than $12 billion in public spending related to the preparations. Prime Minister Abe and his government have also been expecting an estimated $2.3 billion in stimulation from tourism and consumer spending to boost the somewhat stagnant economy. According to a report by one major Japanese bank, a cancelation of the games would likely reduce Japan’s annual gross domestic product by 1.4%. Ultimately, there is a lot on the line for the many different interests involved, and with so much in play, all eyes are on the development on the Coronavirus pandemic, with many actors very hopeful that the world can contain or slow the spread of the disease as swiftly and as thoroughly as possible.