Japanese Olympic Committee cuts grants to national federations

Rio Olympics 2016 Japanese medalist parade in the ginza district on October 7, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Covid-19 pandemic is forcing the Japanese Olympic Committee to cut funding for Japanese sports federations.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, in its 2020 budget the JOC has allocated JPY800m ($7.45m/€6.6m) in ‘enhancement grants’ for national sports federations, compared with JPY2bn for the previous year. Federations in sports in which Japan is likely to win Olympic medals get the lion’s share of these grants.

The JOC recorded about JPY12.8bn in operating expenses in its 2020 budget, a decrease of about JPY2.9bn from last year. With the one-year postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the recent resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, the JOC justified its cost cuts saying it cannot predict the revenue amount from sponsors in 2021 and beyond.

“Operating revenue in the next fiscal year could be zero, so we have to decrease expenditures this fiscal year and use the leftover amount next fiscal year. We have no choice but to make some sacrifices,” the Asahi Shimbun reported a senior JOC official as saying.

Reuters reported that JOC chairman Yasuhiro Yamashita said there was a “high possibility” the organisation would have to consider borrowing money next year.

Yamashita became chairman in June last year, replacing Tsunekazu Takeda, who is being investigated over corruption allegations.

The JOC’s revenue for the enhancement grants comes principally from sponsors. The IOC distributes shares of Olympic Games commercial revenue, including sponsorship revenue, to all National Olympic Committees. The NOCs also run their own sponsorship programmes. The JOC has an extensive, three-tier programme.

A recent survey by Japanese public-service broadcaster NHK said two-thirds of corporate sponsors of Tokyo 2020 – a separate sponsorship programme to the JOC’s – are unsure if they will extend their contracts beyond this December. NHK said some companies failed to respond on how they will react if the committee asks for further financial contributions, and 14 per cent said it would depend on the asking price.

Other surveys have indicated Tokyo residents are beginning to grow dispassionate on the summer Games. A public poll last month found 51.7 per cent of Tokyo residents hope the Olympics in 2021 is postponed again or cancelled, while 46.3 per cent want to see the event proceed.