Are the games still moving forward?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is categorical the Tokyo Olympics will begin as scheduled on July 23, followed by the Paralympics on August 24. Polls indicate that the Japanese public is also categorical that neither of the two events should take place.
Public sentiment against the games has recently been accompanied by concern among locals sponsors. A research Institute also argued that if the cancellation of the games would cost Japan 1.81 trillion yen (AU $ 21.3 billion), the economic loss would still be less than the costs associated with a post-Olympic state of emergency in the United States. nationwide.
And Naoto Ueyama, the head of the Union of Physicians of Japan, even suggested that the Olympics could cause the mutation of a new COVID. variant.
These medical and economic concerns are speculative, but they are no less real.
A number of prefectures in Japan, including those in which Olympic events will be held, remain in a state of emergency, now extended to June 20. And Japan’s vaccination rate is one of the the lowest in the developed world, less than 5%.
Both of the above factors support the general public’s concern that the risks of hosting the games in July seem too high to continue.
The extraordinary powers of the IOC
And yet Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the decision to cancel the games ultimately and unilaterally rests with the IOC.
It seems extraordinary that a private entity like the IOC can exercise such influence in a sovereign state facing a serious public health problem.
Suga’s comments were explained by both political rigidity and national pride. But they also reflect the language and the obligations of the host city contract signed between the IOC and Tokyo in 2013.
It is an extraordinary document. An example of the nature of the power granted to the IOC can be seen in Article 72.
If in the coming weeks, the Japanese government seeks to pass a law, or even a public health regulation, which has negative consequences for the organization of the games (and therefore negative commercial consequences for the IOC), this could be considered a breach of the Agreement. And that would justify the termination of the contract by the IOC.
Clause 66 contains the full range of powers available to the IOC to terminate the contract. If Japan decides in the coming weeks that it simply cannot deliver the games, this clause allows the IOC, in its sole discretion, to simply withdraw from the contract.
In either scenario, Tokyo would not only bear the costs of the preparations to date, but would also remain obligated to indemnify the IOC from any third party claims, actions or judgments.
Even if the organizers were to invoke the clause in the contract which may allow cancellation for unforeseen events or undue hardship – a force majeure-type clause – the IOC is not obliged to examine such a request.
Significantly, the powers granted to the IOC apply not only to cancellation before the games, but also at any time. during Games.
If, for example, the IOC has reason to believe that the safety of participants would be seriously threatened or endangered by, for example, a sudden spike in COVID, it may terminate the contract at its sole discretion. Again, the associated costs should be largely absorbed by the organizers.
Although the game organizers have insured themselves against a possible cancellation of the games (as did the IOC), the nature of the losses, insurable or not, must be put in some context.
The Tokyo 2020 budget was set at AU $ 16.3 billion, but it has since been AU $ 19.9 billion officially, a record for the Summer Olympics. There is speculation that the final expenses will be double the original budget.
If the games were to be canceled, the insurance sector is gearing up for the largest global event claim in history, estimated to be between A $ 2.5 billion and $ 3.8 billion.
And even with a claim, Tokyo would still run out of millions of dollars in capital costs for infrastructure built for gaming.
Responsibility for the health of athletes
As the IOC now shifts to the delivery mode, there are other risks and legal obligations to run an event safely and avoid a nightmare.super-spreader“Scenario.
Moving forward, the IOC assumes more logistical and legal responsibility – or a duty of care – for its safe delivery.
According to World Association of Players, the IOC must do much more to ensure the safety of the athletes. The group’s executive director said:
The IOC and all other Games officials have a fundamental duty of care to protect the health of the public and the athletes from damage, which means that no expense can be spared. Reports that up to three athletes will share small rooms in poorly ventilated facilities are simply unacceptable.
Damage to athletes and public health should not be collateral damage when organizing the world’s largest sporting event.
The lack of specific logistical details in the playbook, however, has been the subject of some criticism. Some observers claim that there is a risk assessment gap between what the playbook aspires to achieve before games and what can actually be done.
In addition, IOC President Thomas Bach was asked to provide more specific details on his statement that 80% of athletes will be vaccinated before arriving in Tokyo.
Then there is the issue of waivers that athletes are asked to sign, which prevent the IOC and Tokyo organizers from being held responsible in the event of an athlete’s illness.
The IOC playbook says that while every effort will be made to mitigate the risks associated with participating in the games,
risks and impacts may not be completely eliminated, and therefore you [the athlete] agree to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games at your own risk.
The IOC reassured the athletes as the clause is “common practice»For major sporting events. This is true, as is generally the case with any waiver or disclaimer signed before engaging in a manifestly risky sporting activity.
However, it is important to note that such a disclaimer has no effect if the reason an athlete becomes ill is due to negligence. The IOC always has a “duty of care” to all athletes participating in the Games.
Simply put, if the IOC does not reasonably follow its own manual protocols and this causes harm to an athlete, a negligence claim could follow.
Will Japan rally behind the games?
The IOC is of the opinion that once the games have started, the event will reach its own momentum and provide a welcome diversion to the Japanese public and the world.
And yet, the diversion of medical and logistical resources that the games will entail – and continued opposition from the Japanese public – could still be the IOC’s biggest opponent. Unwanted gambling is not gambling at all.
This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license.