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Tokyo 2020 Olympics the most expensive ever, Oxford study says

A 2020 Olympic mascot poster on a train in Tokyo. (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images).

A study from the University of Oxford claims the Tokyo Olympics are the most expensive Summer Games on record, with expenditure set to increase further due to the one-year postponement.

The study, by academic Bent Flyvbjerg, says the cost of the games so far is $15.84bn. Flyvbjerg expects several billion dollars more to be incurred due to the one-year suspension. The bill exceeds that for the 2012 London Olympics, the previous most expensive summer games at $14.95bn.

When Tokyo won the bid in 2013, organisers predicted the cost would be $7.3bn.

The Associated Press reported that the International Olympic Committee said it had not seen the Oxford study and declined to comment beyond referring to another study by universities in Mainz and the Sorbonne which said the Tokyo costs were in line with other large-scale projects.

Flyvbjerg told the AP, “They (IOC) obviously don’t like our results, but it’s very difficult to counter a piece of rigorous research like this…And they haven’t done that, and they can’t do that. Our research is a problem for them.”

He added, “The Olympics offer the highest level of risk a city can take on…The trend cannot continue. No city will want to do this because it’s just too expensive, putting themselves into a debt that most cities cannot afford.”

Flyvbjerg’s report, titled Regression to the Tail: Why the Olympics Blow Up, is due to be published on September 15.

Vaccine ‘not required’

A task force made up of government officials, disease experts and Japanese Olympic officials has said a vaccine is not a requirement for holding next year’s Games.

Organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto said, “A vaccine is not a requirement…The International Olympic Committee and the WHO already discussed this matter. It’s not a condition for the delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Games. A vaccine is not a requirement. Of course, if vaccines are developed we’ll really appreciate it. And for Tokyo 2020 this will be great. But if you ask me if that’s a condition–it’s not a condition.”

Muto was speaking after the first of five meetings planned for the task force over the coming months to address the various challenges posed by rescheduling the Games. The body will deliver an ‘interim summary’ by the end of the year.

Newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported that Kasuhiro Sugita, Japanese government deputy chief cabinet secretary said, “While living with the coronavirus, we need to make sure that athletes can perform at their best and audiences enjoy the games safely. To achieve that, we will adjust border controls, testing and medical systems and the operations of the venues.”

Muto said the organisers were aiming for a Games with spectators present.