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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is planning to hold emergency meetings over the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The talks are scheduled to be held via teleconference on March 17.
The IOC had stood firm against the cancelation or postponement of the Olympic Games, but is now in a quandary after many Olympic qualifier events have been canceled due to coronavirus fears. The decision to hold emergency talks came in after qualifiers for several categories such as badminton, wrestling and baseball were canceled amid coronavirus fears.
The IOC will be in talks with the International Sporting Federations (ISFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to address the absence of qualifiers. “Our goal is to help find consistent and credible solutions to replace any missed opportunities for qualification you may have had.” We don’t yet know what those “credible solutions” will look like, although they do say they want to ensure there is “fair access” to qualification events,” the IOC said in a statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has insisted on the Tokyo Olympics to proceed as planned. “We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned,” Abe said on March 14. However, he added the IOC would have the final decision.
Torch-lighting without audience
The ceremonial Olympic torch-lighting was held on March 12 in ancient Olympia, Greece without the attendance of spectators for fears of coronavirus spread. The lighting of the torch signifies the start of the torch relay, where it is set to be passed along to its final destination, the Tokyo Olympics stadium on July 24, 2020.
Coronavirus fears have caused organizers to significantly reduce activities leading up to the ceremony as well as scaling down the number of participants to as few as 100 Olympic representatives.
US$12.6 billion budget
The final budget for the Tokyo Olympics is estimated at US$12.6 billion, with some debating that the actual costs are 10 times higher as preparations for the big event had begun in 2013. Cancellation of the event would mean that the contraction of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Japan would double from 0.7% to 1.5% in 2020. Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, which should be getting some stimulus for investment flow from the 2020 Olympics.
Referring to the economic impact the coronavirus would have on the economy, a long-time resident of Japan, Baden Firth, told The Millennial Source: “The importance of inbound tourism to the broader Japanese economy is finally sinking in – ironically, owing to its sudden decline. Measures are being taken to prop up SMEs, but the real question is: When will the tourists return? No amount of government stimulation will suffice if they don’t come back. Many exposed businesses will struggle to survive"
Along with 696 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the number of coronavirus cases in Japan topped 1,500 and the recorded number of deaths totaled 32, as of March 16.
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