Tokyo Olympics organizers may need the U.S. to help push the games to the finish line.
Japanese officials would like President Joe Biden to publicly support efforts to carry on with the events despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mr. Biden is dealing with a tough situation with the coronavirus,” Haruyuki Takahashi, a Tokyo Organising Committee member, told The Wall Street Journal. “But if he makes a positive statement about the Olympics going ahead, we’d gain strong momentum.”
The U.S. has historically brought the largest and most successful group of athletes to the Olympics, and generates the most television money.
- In 2011, NBC agreed to a $4.38 billion contract with the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the Olympics through the 2020 games — the most expensive television rights deal in Olympic history at the time.
- In 2014, the broadcaster agreed to a $7.75 billion contract extension that runs through 2032.
As a political ally of Japan, a U.S. show of support could also help to quell concerns among the Japanese public, which is increasingly wary of holding the event.
Last week, a report from a British outlet stated that the Japanese government had “privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics would have to be canceled” because of COVID-19 — and that officials were refocusing on securing the 2032 Olympics.
Various stakeholders have since vehemently denied that report.
“It’s up to the U.S. I hate to say it, but [president] Thomas Bach and the IOC are not the ones who are able to make the decision about the Games. They don’t have that level of leadership,” Takahashi added, though the IOC rebuked his statement.