IOC creates $800m fund to address coronavirus crisis

Lausanne (AFP) –


The International Olympic Committee said Thursday it had created a fund of $800 million to tackle the financial hardships created by the coronavirus pandemic which has forced the postponement of this year's Tokyo Olympics until 2021.

IOC president Thomas Bach, speaking by teleconference after a virtual executive board meeting, said the body had released "an envelope of up to $800 million to address the financial consequences of this COVID-19 crisis".

"We anticipate that we will have to bear costs of up to $800 million for our part, our responsibilities for the organisation of the Games," the German said.

The envelope has two parts: $650m (602 million euros) which "refers to the costs for the organisation" of the postponed Games for the IOC; and up to $150m as an aid package for the Olympic movement, in particular international federations, national Olympic committees and IOC-recognised entities.

Bach said the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed almost 300,000 people worldwide, had had "a very severe financial effect on the world, on society, on government and of course also on the Olympic Games, the entire Olympic movement and in particular the IOC".

"We have been discussing this financial effect, this financial impact today. You can imagine it's not easy because planning in these days is so difficult because of all the uncertainties you have.

"Nobody knows how the world looks like tomorrow," Bach said. "It's a very incremental planning procedure."

The IOC, which has approximately $1 billion (926 million euros) in reserves, in March took the historic decision to postpone the Games, scheduled to open on July 24, until July 23 to August 8, 2021. It was the first peacetime postponement of the Games.

The postponement affects every aspect of the organisation -- the Olympic Athletes' Village, hotels, ticketing, venues and transport, being among the major headaches.

- No speculation -

According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost $12.6 billion, shared between the organising committee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

Bach had warned last month that the postponement would cost the IOC "several hundred million dollars", adding that while the body would honour its financial obligations to Tokyo, it would probably have to make cuts.

"This situation requires compromises, requires sacrifices by everybody. Therefore the IOC and the organising committee are in close contact with this joint taskforce and we are leaving no stone unturned in this respect to reduce the costs while maintaining the spirit of the Games and the quality, of course, of sports competition and the athletes in particular.

"Everything is being discussed and everything is on the table."

But Bach was quick to scotch rumours that the postponed Games could be moved to another country depending on how the COVID-19 outbreak plays out.

"We are now working with full engagement on the success of Tokyo 2020 starting on July 23, 2021... To have the Games in a safe environment for all participants in Tokyo next year," Bach said.

"We are one year and two months away from these postponeed Olympic Games. We should not perhaps fuel any speculation on any future developments now."

The IOC also agreed to hold their next executive board meeting, virtually, on July 17.