Latest blunder sees IOC forced into embarrassing climbdown after claiming Japan agreed to bear extra Olympics costs

Latest blunder sees IOC forced into embarrassing climbdown after claiming Japan agreed to bear extra Olympics costs

The International Olympic Committee has retracted its claims that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had agreed to absorb some of the additional costs associated with rescheduling the Olympic Games.

The embarrassing withdrawal of the claims from the IOC website came at the behest of the local organizing committee amid widespread backlash in Japan. Abe’s government is currently drafting a stimulus and economic recovery package to stave off the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic while also working on rescheduling the Games.

Organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said the issue of additional costs has not even been discussed with the IOC. In fact, he said that it had not even been mentioned during the March meeting between Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach, during which both parties first agreed to postpone the Games. 

In a Q&A post on the IOC website, it reportedly claimed that Abe “agreed that Japan will continue to cover the costs it would have done under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020, and the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the costs.”

For context, initial estimates indicate that postponement will likely add some 300 billion yen ($2.7 billion) to the price tag.

“We are looking into how the Japanese government, Tokyo metropolitan government and organizers will handle the added cost,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Tuesday in response to the IOC’s claims. 

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also denied that Abe’s government had made any such commitment to absorb additional costs. 

The long-debated postponement was announced on March 24, 2020 amid the worsening global coronavirus pandemic. At present, the Games have been rescheduled to take place between July 23 and August 8, 2021. 

For its part, the IOC has had a long and chequered past with the truth, falsely accusing Russian athletes of doping at Sochi 2014. The body was also accused of forging signatures on documents given as evidence against Russian biathletes Olga Zaitseva, Yana Romanova and Olga Vilukhina. 

It also unanimously upheld a ban on Russia which prevented athletes from appearing under their national flag during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, despite numerous challenges and irregularities in testing and enforcement of rules.

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