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Virus-delayed Tokyo Olympic sponsors to extend contracts

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TOKYO, Japan, Dec 24 – Organisers for the virus-postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics said Thursday they have reached “basic agreement” with all domestic sponsors to extend their contracts by a year, securing much-needed additional funds.

Keeping all 68 domestic sponsors on board for another year is all the more important for organisers as the cost of the Games balloons because of the unprecedented delay and the need for coronavirus countermeasures.

In a statement, Tokyo 2020 said the “basic agreement” meant they were now “proceeding with the conclusion of contracts with all partners.”

But organisers declined to be drawn on just when the final details would be ironed out, nor give details on how much individual contract extensions were worth.

Overall, they said the extensions were expected to bring in another 22 billion yen ($212 million).

Domestic sponsors are stumping up more money at the Tokyo Summer Games than any previous Olympics, and there have been sporadic reports of misgivings among firms on extending their contracts.

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said sponsors had “spoken about the difficult situation that each of them are facing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented economic crisis.”

“At the same time, we received powerful messages from all partner companies… (saying) we definitely want you to hold the Games and we will support Tokyo 2020 as much as possible,” he told reporters.

While organisers insist that the Games can open as now scheduled, on July 23, 2021, rising new infections at home and abroad and the slow roll-out of vaccines have some unconvinced that the event can or should proceed.

Domestic support for holding the Games next year is limited, with a poll released this month by national broadcaster NHK finding a majority back either further postponement or an outright cancellation.

Organisers said this week the Games will now cost at least 1.64 trillion yen ($15.9 billion), almost $3 billion more than their revised budget produced last year.

That could make Tokyo 2020 the most expensive Summer Games in history, and some research suggests the real costs will be even higher.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto defended the price tag earlier this week, calling it a “positive investment.”

“Whether you see this budget as expensive or not depends on how you look at it,” he told reporters.

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