When it comes to spectacular sporting events, it doesn't get any bigger that the Summer Olympics. Every four years, the event brings together the greatest number of athletes, the largest number of athletic events, and the greatest number of viewers.
Those bigger-and-better attributes may not hold true for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics coming in just less than 14 months -- in late July 2021 -- as some recent news features seem to be pointing toward a downsized mega-event.
Here's the headline -- and opening sentence -- for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's feature :
Postponed Tokyo Olympics could be downsized, simplified
The possibility of a reduced Tokyo Olympics is now being floated in Japan by politicians, and in unsourced news stories. The themes include limited seating -- if any fans at all.
"The Japanese public is being prepared for the reality of next year's postponed Olympics, where athletes are likely to face quarantines, spectators will be fewer, and the delay will cost taxpayers billions of dollars," according to the cbc.ca preview for the first week of June.
"In the last several weeks, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has given selected interviews outside Japan and hinted at empty stadiums, quarantines and virus testing."
The preview article goes on to state, "The stark message about a very different, reduced Olympics is now being floated in Japan by politicians, and in unsourced news stories. The themes include the possibility of reduced seating at the Olympics -- if any fans at all -- tests for all athletes, fans and staff, and a quarantine-like situation at the Athletes Village."
The article went on to predict next year's Tokyo Olympics will be "downsized," "simplified," or "very different." (Note that 2021 Olympic sports venues have already been completed. In fact, the structure that will host freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling events was originally built as a convention center.)
Part of that concern mentioned in these recent preview articles: total Olympic seating capacity could be reduced ... meaning that millions of tickets already sold many simply not be available for fans to witness actual sporting events. "Tickets are going to be a major battleground," according to the Canadian Broadcasting article. "But once again these countermeasures will be discussed in more depth from this autumn onward."
Postponing the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 has its costs
Hosting an Olympics is an incredibly expensive act even in the best of times ... such as "no coronavirus pandemic." Add in a one-year delay, and Olympic costs have soared even more. In fact, the cost of that delay has been estimated at $2 billion to $6 billion. Neither the IOC nor event organizers have given a figure for the costs to Japan, or who will ultimately pay for them.
Other possible ways to trim the overall budget for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics have also been discussed. One idea kicked around that's sure to raise the ire of sports fans from around the world: hosting the Games without fans in the stands.
Before the postponement, Olympic organizers said they were spending $12.6 billion to host the Games. However, a government audit last year said the total dollar amount to put on the event would be twice that amount.
To put that in perspective: when Tokyo was awarded the games in 2013, back then, the total cost was anticipated to be $7.3 billion.
Yet another way to cut costs: possibly combining ceremonies
In recent times, the Summer Olympics and Paralympics have been held at about the same time on the calendar … yet as separate events.
"Many discussions are ongoing covering various areas, including the ceremonies," Craig Spence, a spokesman for the Paralympic Games, said in an email. "A lots of things are still at a discussion stage and therefore it's not appropriate to provide comment on things until they are finalized."
Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto acknowledged costs must be cut, but said safety for athletes could drive them up.
"Unless safety and security are ensured, there will be uncertainty for the athletes-first point of view," she said Thursday. "We must study measures including virus testing in order to ensure safety and security."
The Opening Ceremonies for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will take place less than 14 months from now -- July 23, 2021. There are a lot of issues to be determined in the meantime. Stay tuned.