On consumerism: The Olympics will be played – because of the money | Weekend magazine


By Arthur Vidro

Why do many entities wait until the last minute to cancel events?


If the people hosting a convention cancel it (for whatever reason), that organization will lose the money it deposited as a deposit, may be contractually obligated to pay extra money, and will have to reimburse anyone who paid to attend. In addition, he is unlikely to be eligible for compensation from insurance companies.

But if the event organizers wait until the host establishment or the city / state / national government containing the establishment mandates the cancellation of the event, then their deposits are refunded and the insurance will likely reimburse the organizers.

This is the tax context of most countries in the world. But not for the Olympic Games, which start on July 23 in Tokyo.

Japan’s borders have been partially closed for months, thanks to COVID-19. But the welcome mat was still available for all arriving Olympic staff.

Why are the games being staged despite the pandemic’s tightening grip on Japan? Money.

The games were originally scheduled for summer 2020. But when worldwide travel became virtually banned, the games were delayed for a year.

Note that the games have been delayed, not canceled.

Cancellation a year ago or now would cost powerful parties a lot of money.

There are many reasons to advocate for the cancellation of the games.

As of July 4, only 10% of the population of Tokyo had been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

About 60% of Tokyo residents are in favor of canceling or postponing the games.

Japanese nurses spoke out against the games after Olympic organizers demanded that 500 of them be sent to provide volunteer medical services around the event. Note that this would keep nurses away from their usual patients – Japanese citizens.

Some medical experts have warned from the start that the Olympics could become a big-ticket event. New cases in Tokyo could be multiplied by five or ten. Allowing fans to attend would have presented a risk, not only at the venues, but by the virus circulating through commuter trains, restaurants and other public places. However, organizers waited until July 8 – the date on which the nation announced a new state of emergency – to decide not to allow spectators (except possibly sponsors and dignitaries; the ban on VIPs is different from the ‘ban from the public).

The new state of emergency for Tokyo is expected to run from July 12 to August 8, when it could be extended.

In May, nine Japanese governors called for the games to be canceled or postponed again.

Personally, I would have unplugged these Olympics four months ago.

However, neither the medical community, nor the governors or residents of Japan (nor the newspaper columnists) have a say in the matter. Once the contract has been signed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which chooses the host cities and nations from a menu of candidates, only the IOC can cancel or postpone.

That’s right; by signing the contract, the host country or host city waives many rights. Instead of governing themselves, they must now serve the spectacle we know as the Olympic Games.

The CIO exists to make money. It sells the rights to broadcast on television. It sells the sponsorship rights to the highest bidder. Why do companies sponsor the Olympic Games? Thus, their advertisements can claim “the official paperclip of the 2020 Summer Olympics”. Or official fly paper. Or official anything. And then the masses who let the ads influence their buying behavior will buy the sponsor’s product.

Over 3.6 million tickets have been sold. Organizers in Tokyo initially expected around $ 800 million in revenue from ticket sales; But the changes caused by the pandemic meant they wouldn’t even have achieved half that amount. Now, with the ban on all paying spectators, they will not be making any ticket revenue. Refunds will be required for all tickets.

The IOC doesn’t care. Ticket revenues go to the local organizing entity. Thus, the lack of ticketing revenue means a shortfall that must be filled by Japanese government entities. Which means taxpayers.

Depending on who you ask, the Tokyo Olympics will cost between $ 15.4 billion and $ 31 billion. Either way, only $ 6.7 billion will come from private entities. The rest will be paid for by the Japanese public.

The IOC derives nearly 75% of its income from the sale of television rights. Another 18% comes from sponsors. If the IOC cancels the Olympics – remember, they are the only ones allowed to do so – then the IOC will have to pay back all that TV and sponsorship money. The IOC would lose billions of dollars. As long as the planes are flying, the IOC will never choose to cancel.

Athletes cannot bring friends or family, with the exception of babies breastfed by these athletes. Participation will be limited to people with relationships.

However, limited or no participation is not a sufficient reason to cancel.

But public health is a good reason.

The Olympic Games will bring together 15,000 athletes and over 50,000 officials (including sponsors and dignitaries), as well as 70,000 volunteers. The matches will be played while the nation is under a government-ordered state of emergency. Japan can declare an emergency. But he cannot cancel the games.

If television (and streaming) had never been invented, the Olympics would not be played this year. But because of the money that can be made from our global addiction to watching screens, the games will continue.

Because it is sport and money, areas that are more important than health – at least for the decision-makers behind televised sports. The CIO will maximize its profit. The games will be played.

Regardless of the cost to public health.

Arthur Vidro’s “EQMM Goes to College” appeared in the May / June 2021 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery magazine.

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