No-frills Olympics bid to save $380m in cost

No-frills Olympics bid to save $380m in cost

TOKYO • The cost of the coronavirus-postponed Tokyo Olympics will be slashed by US$280 million (S$380.6 million), organisers said yesterday, touting a scaled-back, less flashy Games, with cuts to everything from staffing to pyrotechnics.

But the final cost of next year’s event – officially budgeted before the pandemic at 1.3 trillion yen (S$16.7 billion) – remains unclear because additional expenses caused by the postponement have not yet been made public.

“Tokyo 2020 believes that this work will help to create a model for future global events including forthcoming Games amid the new normal in which we now live,” organisers said in a statement after a presentation to the International Olympic Committee executive board.

They said they would put out an updated budget, including additional costs linked to postponement and coronavirus countermeasures, by the end of the year.

Plans for a lower-key event were unveiled late last month, with measures including fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies, and savings on banners, mascots and pyrotechnics.

The size of behind-the-scenes delegations at the event will be reduced by 10 to 15 per cent, and perks also cut back, organisers and Olympic officials have said.

The 2020 Games were postponed earlier this year as the coronavirus spread around the globe, and are now set to open on July 23.

With many countries experiencing second or even third waves of infection, there have been doubts about whether the event can be staged, but organisers and Olympic officials insist it can be done safely.

If held at all, the final shape of the Games remains unclear, with questions over whether to allow spectators and foreign visitors yet to be resolved.

Organisers have made clear that, at the very least, it will be a more sober event compared to the usually exuberant spectacle staged previously.

“As we’re in the Covid-19 world, are we in a world where the flashy event that we used to think of as normal before is still suitable?

“We’ve reached a turning point in this regard,” Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said yesterday.