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Japan, IOC Jostle Over Who Will Pay Billions To Delay 2020 Olympics Over Coronavirus

The Olympic rings displayed outside the National Stadium, a venue for the 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo on April 7. The games have been delayed until 2021 because of the coronavirus.
Behrouz Mehri
AFP via Getty Images
The Olympic rings displayed outside the National Stadium, a venue for the 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo on April 7. The games have been delayed until 2021 because of the coronavirus.

The Olympics won't be happening this summer, and a clash between the Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee over who will shoulder the costs of postponing the games is heating up.

Competition was slated to start in July, but last month IOC and Japanese officials agreed to postpone the Summer Games until the summer of 2021 out of concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday the Switzerland-based IOC, which presides over the international athletic event, updated its FAQ page about the next summer games. It suggested Japan will bankroll any costs associated with pushing the games back a year.

"The Japanese government has reiterated that it stands ready to fulfil its responsibility for hosting successful Games," the page reads.

A previous version of the website, the Associated Press reports, specifically said Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, agreed to "continue to cover the costs it would have done under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020, and the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the costs."

Japanese officials reportedly took issue with this, with one official of the Tokyo Olympics saying it was "not appropriate" for the prime minister's name to be added to the IOC website in that manner.

"What we are requesting to the IOC team is that the name of the Japanese Prime Minister should not be quoted, plus the IOC's website should not express beyond what was agreed between the IOC and Tokyo 2020," said Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson, according to Reuters.

The news agency reports the IOC webpage was then updated and a direct mention of Abe was removed.

Some project the additional costs for delaying the games to come in at nearly $6 billion.

Another estimate is roughly $3 billion, according to Japan's Kyodo News, which also reports Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Japanese officials were exploring how to cover the additional costs.

"We are looking into how the Japanese government, Tokyo metropolitan government and organizers will handle the added cost," she said, according the news agency.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga rejected that idea, Kyodo News reports, adding that he said Japan had not agreed to take on further costs.

Abe last week declared a nationwide state of emergency because of the uptick in COVID-19 cases. He also announced a plan to implement a stimulus program that would deliver roughly $930 to each of 120 million of Japan's citizens.

The emergency order is in effect until May 6.

The Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in Tokyo from July 23 through August 8, 2021.

As NPR has reported, it's the first time the Olympics have been rescheduled. They were suspended three times because of World Wars I and II.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
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