Coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4bn

Budget balloons again due to unprecedented postponement and raft of pandemic health measures

The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organisers said on Friday, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.

Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5bn would be needed for operational costs related to the delay, with another $900m in spending on coronavirus countermeasures for the Games next year.

The dollar figure is calculated at an exchange rate of 107 yen, and is closer to $2.56bn when calculated at today's rate.

The costs could rise further, with Tokyo 2020 saying it will release an additional $250m in "contingency" funds to help cover the expenses.

The extra costs come as organisers and Olympic officials work to build enthusiasm and momentum for the first Games postponed in peacetime, insisting that the massive international event can go ahead next year even if the pandemic is not under control.

But more spending could further harden public opinion in Japan, where polls earlier this year showed a majority of people think the Games should be postponed again or cancelled together.

"Whether it's seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it," Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto told reporters. "We have done all we can to earn the public's understanding."

The additional costs will be split between the national government, the city of Tokyo and the organisers.

The unprecedented decision to delay the Games has thrown up a plethora of extra costs, from rebooking venues and transport to retaining the huge organising committee staff.

And with organisers committed to hosting the Games even if the pandemic remains a threat, extensive safety measures will be needed.

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Tokyo 2020 this week released a 54-page plan they said would make it possible to hold the Games, including restrictions on athletes touching and fans cheering, and an infection control centre in the Olympic Village.

Organisers have tried to scale back elements of the Games, offering fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies and making savings on mascots, banners and meals, but so far they have cut just $280m in spending.

And on Thursday, they said 18 per cent of tickets sold in Japan will be refunded, with domestic fans demanding their money back on about 810,000 of the 4.45 million tickets sold in the country.

Organisers hope to now resell those tickets, and demand for seats at the Games was high before the pandemic.

But enthusiasm has since waned, with a poll in July revealing that just one in four people wanted to see the event held in 2021, and most backing either further delay or cancellation.

During International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach's recent tour of the National Stadium, the main site for next year's Olympics, there were protests demanding the cancellation of next year's Games over fears that large numbers of visitors to the Japanese capital could cause a massive spike in Covid-19 cases.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said the spending plan was carefully considered and he hoped people would accept it.

"If you have a drink, you could say your glass is half-full, or half empty. It depends on how you look at it," he said.

"There's a rationale behind this plan. I hope the Japanese people will understand it."

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