Coronavirus update: “Massive” Tokyo costs, Olympic qualifications to stand, Tour de France options, and more

Athletes' Village of the Tokyo 2020 Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games is seen a day after its postponement was announced due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 25, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

The costs of rescheduling the Olympics next year will be “massive”, Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto has said.

Following the first meeting of the task force set up to plan the reschedule, Muto said: “We need to secure the facilities. Not only the venues but the athletes’ village, training sites and what not.

“We need to assess whether they will be available when we need them next year. There will be additional costs that come with this – and we expect it will probably be massive.

“We are dealing with the postponement of the Games, which has never happened in history. The task is daunting.”

Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei has estimated additional costs of $2.7bn due to the postponement. The Games had an official budget of $12.6bn, although the Japanese national audit agency has said actual spending has been $28bn.

Japan Today listed the new costs as including: renegotiating leases on venues, paying for maintenance at venues, finding new venues, paying the 3,500 OC staff, and dealing with the real estate developers who were to sell off the properties in the Athletes Village.

The OC’s president Yoshiro Mori reiterated the scale of the task: “What we have been working on for seven years came to a screeching halt just as it was about to start – and now we have to build it back again.

“We are going to have to cram into about six months what we achieved in seven years, so it will be difficult. To use rugby lingo, we now need to string phase after phase, after phase. It will not be a game of packs.

“Making decisions seamlessly will be crucial”.

Muto added: “The IOC told us the organisation of Tokyo 2020 is an Olympic record, and we hope to set another record with this new start we have embarked on”.

Olympics qualifications to stand

Athletes that qualified for Tokyo 2020 will also be qualified for next year’s rescheduled Olympics, Agence France-Presse has reported.

The decision was made at a teleconference between the International Olympic Committee and 32 international sports federations on Thursday.

More than half of the 11,000 scheduled athlete participants at Tokyo 2020 had qualified by the time the Games were postponed. Some sports, such as boxing, had the majority of their qualifying tournaments interrupted. Others were less affected – 90 per cent of sailing competitors were qualified, for example.

“Thomas Bach (the IOC president) first explained the reasons for the postponement of the Games, then said that the athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020 would automatically be qualified for 2021,” one of the participants in the call told AFP.

Tour de France may take place behind closed doors

The Tour de France may be held without spectators, France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has said.

The race is scheduled for June 27 to July 19. Maracineanu said it was too early to decide whether it will be called off.

Maracineanu told French radio station France Bleu: “The Tour’s economic model is not based on ticket sales but on TV rights. During this period of confinement, everybody is aware of the risks and responsible.

“People understand the benefits of staying home and watching event on TV rather than live. It would not be too detrimental to follow the Tour on TV.”

Since the Tour began in 1903, only the two world wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45 have halted it.

The Giro d’Italia, another of cycling’s ‘Grand Tours’, has been postponed already, with organisers seeking a new date later this year.

IOC boxing task force under fire after infections

The International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force has hit back at criticism for its running of an Olympic qualifier tournament in London this month, after six participating boxers and coaches tested positive for coronavirus.

The BTF said it “is not aware of any link between the competition and the infection” and noted that “many participants were in independently organised training camps in Italy, Great Britain and in their home countries before the competition started on 14 March 2020 and have returned home a while ago so it is not possible to know the source of infection”.

Reuters reported that Croatian coach Tomo Kadic, one of those that has tested positive for the virus, said: “The IOC should have known that they ought to have scrapped the qualifiers.”

Turkish boxing federation president Eyup Gozgec said the situation was “the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC task force”.

The BTF also argued that many other sports and public events in the UK were taking place at the same time, that the UK government had not yet imposed restrictions on such events, and that it had nevertheless taken precautionary measures to protect the health of participants.

The competition started on March 14 and was halted on March 16.

Other news

CoSport, the authorised Olympics ticket reseller in the US, said those who had bought tickets for Tokyo 2020 would not immediately get refunds, but would be able to use their tickets at the rescheduled Games next year.

The football associations of Australia and South Korea are calling for the age limit for players at next year’s Olympic football tournament to be raised to ensure that those who helped their team qualify for the postponed Games can still play. The tournament is for under-23 players, although squads are allowed to include three players aged 23 or older.

The Football Association of Thailand has delayed the resumption of play in its four domestic leagues until at least May 2. Games have been halted since the beginning of this month. The Thai government yesterday declared a state of emergency in the country, that will run until at least April 30.

World Archery has extended the postponement of all its international competitions and development activities from April 30 until the end of June. The governing body said it still intends to hold as many international events as possible this year, and will announce the new dates of any events no less than two months in advance.

Fisu, the international university sports federation, has cancelled 13 events that were scheduled in June, July and August. The list of events is published on its website.

The International Cricket Council has postponed all its qualifying events that were due to take place before June 30 until further notice. The ICC runs regional and global qualifying tournaments that form a pathway to its major tournaments.