Why decision to postpone Tokyo Games took long

Friday April 03 2020

The International Olympic Committee has revealed that getting Japan to agree to the Olympics 2020 postponement was particularly strenuous.

“The challenge for the IOC was to get the host on board,” said Michael Payne, former IOC Head of Marketing.

He revealed this in a conference call with International Sports Press Association (AIPS) reporters.

It was the first time in peace times that the Olympics had been postponed in their 124-year modern era history.

The Games were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 because of World War I and World War II.

The 2020 Summer Games were to be the cornerstone of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political strategy to reinvigorate the country.


However, the effects of the deferment caused by coronavirus pandemic, could have the opposite outcome at least in the short term. “Japan had spent over $20 billion in preparation for the Olympics,” Payne estimated.

Logistically, an Olympic Games budget is split between the organising committee and host country’s government. In Tokyo 2020s case, the IOC was reported to have contributed close to a billion dollars before postponement.

Came under fire

The International Olympic Committee came under fire for taking it’s time to make the decision.

Payne, the first IOC Marketing Director turned consultant, termed the criticism as unfair. “It’s not the first time that people have called on The Games to be cancelled,” he said.

“Before Rio 2016 there was the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil … three months before Pyeongchang 2018 there was the risk of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.”

The sports marketer, who spent close to two decades with the IOC, emphasised that the committee made the decision once it had all the facts and was able to convince the host.

“Ironically, the pressure of other countries (Canada and Australia) pulling out of the 2020 Olympics helped the IOC’s case to Japan,” Payne said.

Under contract, the International Olympic Committee reserved the right to postpone The Games.

Despite the 2020 Tokyo Olympics having already generated the biggest domestic sponsorship on record at more than $3 billions, the IOC was quick to deny money as the motivation behind delayed response.

“Contracts, broadcast rights and sponsors wasn’t the reason we took time (sic),” the 62-year-old Payne said.