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Editorial: Are additional estimated costs for Tokyo Olympics realistic?

Costs arising from the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to reach 294 billion yen ($2.83 billion), officials have announced.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will shoulder 120 billion yen ($1.15 billion) of this amount, while the organizing committee will cover 103 billion yen ($989.85 million) and the central government 71 billion yen ($682.4 million).

    However, there remains much uncertainty about plans, as the novel coronavirus is continuing to spread around the world, and it is still not clear exactly what form the games will take.

    The question of how much more sponsors will agree to contribute to the organizing committee to cover the additional costs will come down to fate of negotiations. Furthermore, ticket revenues could fluctuate as the upper limits on the numbers of spectators allowed at the games are not expected to be decided until next spring.

    A total of 96 billion yen of the additional costs has been earmarked for measures to combat the novel coronavirus. The central government will cover 56 billion yen of this amount, while the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will shoulder the remaining 40 billion yen. But because the number of spectators has not yet been decided, it is not yet clear how high costs will actually run. We cannot help but question whether the calculations are based on a realistic scenario.

    The government envisages allowing spectators from overseas to attend the games. But it is said that the cost of virus protection measures at the border are not included in the additional expenses that have been announced.

    Measures to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus will be necessary in training camps and host towns where locals interact with the delegations of foreign athletes, but again, the cost of these measures are not included in the predicted outlay for the games.

    The problems are not restricted to expenses. In light of the current situation where medical systems around the country are under pressure due to the spread of the coronavirus, it would be an extremely difficult task to assemble medical staff for the games. Securing vaccines and administering them are also major issues that need to be dealt with.

    The government hopes that the games will give Japan an economic boost. In light of the reality that coronavirus infections are spreading around the world, careful consideration of the number of spectators allowed at events is needed.

    With the latest additional expenses, the total cost of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games now stands at 1.644 trillion yen (about $15.8 billion). At the end of last year, the Board of Audit of Japan pointed out that when factoring in related expenses such as the maintenance of roads, the overall cost would top 3 trillion yen (about $28.8). But now it is expected this could rise even further.

    If the games' organizing committee falls short of funds, the tab will fall upon Tokyo residents and other taxpayers in Japan. Simplification of the games had enabled expenses to be reduced by 30 billion yen (about $288 million), but this is not enough. If the games are going to be held amid the coronavirus pandemic, then all the more effort is needed to reduce costs.

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