The Tokyo Olympics
On the record, reset the clock at 2032
Tokyoites in the Marunouchi area almost forgot the red digital of symbolic clock ticking to the countdown on July 23 last year. Covid-19 pandemic swept away the business dwellers from the area as if the virus occupied the space in the central Tokyo. With five months to go for the sports event, Tokyoites patiently watch the progress in IOC and the Tokyo Olympics Committee. The question everyone has in mind is, “Do we have the Tokyo Olympics this summer?” That should have been answered by now.
No one wants to answer this question. Especially if you are public figure like politicians, you have a certain thing in common; avoid answering the tricky question. The reason of avoidance is crystal-clear. Both options are terrible. In either way to settle the debate, the public figure will ultimately encounter the massive criticism from the public. If yes, they will criticize, “Is the event more important than life?” Others will blame, “Are we going to have extra money to spend? What kind of costs are we going to bear for the event?” Most importantly, “What is the point of holding the event? Can we win the corona virus by holding the event successfully? Is the Olympic an answer to save people? Is this really something worth fighting for?”
If no, why did we wait for a long-one year to come up with this decision? Could it be possible that we cancelled it at outbreak or even earlier than before? Aren’t you muddling through the dark space?”
This is a kind of things a British newspaper conveys in a recent episode of the magazine, The Economist, on February 13th. The newspaper cast the debatable question, “Should the Tokyo Olympics be held this summer?” Then, the episode goes on to describe the situation occurring domestically and internationally, referencing the Japanese poll, the estimated cost, and preparedness. How does the Japanese public respond to this question?
A lot of Japanese people are opposed to holding the Olympics. The poll in the survey looks that the 80% of the Japanese are opposed to holding the event, with which 40% prefer to cancellation and the remaining 40% hope it for further postponing. But International Olympics Committee (IOC) disclosed no alternative by stating in the air, “No Plan B”. For those prefer the cancellation, the reason is about the incurring cost to bear the event. The original tab of the event stood at $7.3bn until last year. But currently the official estimate inflated it as nearly twice as many as before to $12.6bn. Worse, the true cost of the Olympics will be roughly reaching $20bn by the public auditor. This is approximately three times higher than the oversized figure of the original projection. Is the cost justifiable? With fewer spectators and visitors from abroad in July, the revenue of entertainment and tourism is surely going down to the minimal. Very few can even estimate the expected revenue from the Olympics. Can we cover the cost as a business?
And then, the question comes down to legal implication, how does the contract with IOC stipulate in the Tokyo Olympics? If it does not, IOC has to make an official comment. It says that there is no Plan B. That remark indicates that there is no description in the document. If there is not, they have to develop the document open to the public for postponement. Tensions are piling among organizers in Tokyo exponentially. But the answer to this straight-forward question is obvious. Analyze the question itself and come up with how to answer this question from the standpoint of legal as well as business.
With red digit ticking down to the time to reach the decision, decision-makers in business are hurry developing the post-corona virus scheme in profit-making activities. Politicians can delay the final decision to observe the change in approval ratings. But the nature of business is not built on such a rating in politics. They need to grow business to make a profit.
So what is my answer? My reaction is on the record, “reset the clock at 2032” to avoid the criticism and make it minimal as if the Japanese will expect to have another chance in eleven years. But off the record, the cancellation is justifiable in the back-of-the-envelop cost-benefit analysis. The three-hold cost outweighs the benefit of revenue at the bottom. The bottom line looks dim. From legal point, IOC says there is no Plan B. So further postponing is not an option.