Why Calling the Olympics “Tokyo 2020” is Not Symbolic

By Lucas Peltier

The Olympics are officially postponed for the first time in history due to the ongoing concern of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Both the IOC and Japan made the decision to move the Games to next 2021 for the safety of the athletes and all those present, but they also agreed to keep the official moniker as “Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

Why?

According to the organizers, they want the Tokyo Games to stand as a “beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times.”  Realistically though, it is so the IOC can save money for its sponsors and other partners (which include companies like Coca-Cola and General Electric) by not having to change the date from 2020 to 2021 on logos, packaging, merchandise, apparel and above else – Olympic medals.

Now, the IOC has not stated out front that this is the main reason, but when considering how the Tokyo Olympics was able to generate domestic sponsorship revenue of more $3 billion last year, which is three times more than the amount gathered at any prior summer Games beforehand – plays a heavily role in the decision.  Part of the reason why the Tokyo Olympics broke records in sponsorship revenue was because any of the sponsors were based in Japan, such as Mitsubishi and Asahi Beer.  However, many of the corporate sponsors, particularly smaller companies who were greatly impacted by COVID-19, are trying to get their money back from IOC.

Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 7.38.03 PM

Photo credit by International Olympic Committee

Sponsorship revenue is vital to the operations of the IOC as it not only goes to the organizers of each Olympic Games who construct the venues and whatnot, but also to fund respective sports federations to promote their sports across the globe and National Olympic Committees – such as the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee in Colorado Springs, CO.

Now other hypothetical options could have been A) cancel the Tokyo Olympics entirely and affect numerous athletes who spent most of their lives training for the event and everyone involved in managing the Tokyo Games, or B) hold the Games without spectators, which the IOC also relies on ticket sales – and more than 4 million tickets have already sold in Japan alone.  As of right now, the IOC has not determined whether organizers will provide refunds to current ticketholders.

Ultimately, postponing the Tokyo Games is likely the best option overall given the circumstances. However, next time there should be an asterisk when the IOC states that they are trying to display a “beacon of hope.”

The Olympics are scheduled for July 23 to August 8, 2021.

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