TOKYO (Reuters) – After the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games following the coronavirus outbreak, Paralympics chief Andrew Parsons is focused on consolidating losses and protecting smaller national federations stung by the change.
The decision was made last month to postpone the Games until the summer of 2021 because of the impact of COVID-19, which has so far killed over 81,000 people worldwide [M1L8N2AB5TN].
It means that the Tokyo Paralympics will now run from Aug. 24 – Sep. 5, 2021.
It has left the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) with a cashflow issue as broadcasters and other partners look to defer planned payments until next year.
“One immediate impact of the Games postponement is change of cashflow,” Parsons said during a teleconference with journalists on Wednesday.
“We have nearly, this week, completed an exercise reviewing more than 150 contracts that are Games-related.
“One example is the broadcasters; we won’t have the Games until 2021 so some of them already asked if they can delay final payments to 2021, which we can of course understand.
“All of our partners have been hugely supportive. The message is that we are all in the same boat, impacted by this terrible disease.”
Parsons did not clarify how much money was on the line but stressed that he hasn’t turned to the International Olympic Committee for support.
“We are trying to solve the issues internally,” he said.
In turn, Parsons and the IPC wanted to rearrange commitments made by themselves and various national committees this summer.
“Cancelled events and changed plans come at a cost to our members, who are normally not big and rich organisations. So, they are not immune to the financial problems that come with COVID-19,” explained Parsons.
“Some have already paid entry fees, hotels and tickets for events that have been cancelled so we are helping them with that and liaising with the local organising committee on how some of this money can go back to the National Paralympic Committees.”
“The best case scenario for us, when it comes to accommodation, is that the hotels where there is already an agreement for this year… they can offer the same service next year without having to charge a penalty fee.”
Another top priority for Parsons is making sure that progress towards making Tokyo a more accessible city in time for the Paralympics does not stall.
Parsons and the have IPC consistently relayed their concerns that Tokyo does not have enough accessible rooms.
The Tokyo metropolitan government says 850 accessible hotel rooms will be needed for addition to the athletes village during the Paralympics but they are currently short of that.
The IPC has been working with existing hotels to build new accessible rooms.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, hotels are struggling and Parsons is keen they do not lose focus on accessibility goals.
“When the Games finally start next year then we still want the Tokyo Olympics to be a catalyst for change in society. We must ensure that this focus in not lost,” said Parsons.
“We cannot lose the focus on accessible accommodation. Some hotels were prepared to adjust and adapt and with this postponement they might lose focus on that.
“It took a lot of time and effort to get this ball moving and so we don’t want to go back because of the postponement.”
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Ken Ferris)