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What a delay means for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Mitchell Hartman Mar 24, 2020
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Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

What a delay means for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Mitchell Hartman Mar 24, 2020
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

We now know about the status of the Summer Olympics: Tuesday morning, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach agreed to postpone the Olympics by about one year.

This, just one day after IOC board member Dick Pound spoke to USA Today about the Tokyo games and suggested a postponement. “The games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know,” he said.

Sporting events the world over have already been cancelled as the novel coronavirus has spread. One reason the Olympic organizers held off for so long, says Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, is all of the money on the line.

“The International Olympic Committee is primarily looking at the dollar, and its relationships with NBC, other networks around the world and corporate sponsors, and [has] not been sufficiently attentive to the athletes’ needs,” said Zimbalist, author of the book “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.”

He says athletes need to train in facilities — and compete in qualifying meets — that have been shut down thanks to COVID-19.

Amateur athletes will also need continued corporate support from companies like Nike and Adidas.

John Horan, founder of Sporting Goods Intelligence, says big brands are likely to keep up their sponsorships.

“They see the Olympics as a great time to introduce new product, and the world’s eye’s on them,” he said.

Horan noted that the Olympics aren’t nearly as important as soccer’s World Cup for generating sales. The next World Cup is in 2022.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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