April 29, 2020 / 1:30 PM / a month ago

Pandemic means IOC must review budget and priorities, says Bach

(Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee is reviewing its budget and priorities due to the pandemic and postponed Tokyo 2020 Games, president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday, with adjustments necessary to meet changed priorities.

FILE PHOTO: Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attends an interview after the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Calling in an open letter for a ‘comprehensive debate’ to shape sport in a post-coronavirus world, the German proposed a wide-ranging consultation on the future challenges and possibilities.

Bach said the Olympic movement as a whole might “have to look more closely into the proliferation of sports events”.

“The financial pressure on all the stakeholders, including NOCs (national Olympic committees), IFs (international federations) and Organising Committees, may require more consolidation in this respect.”

Bach confirmed that the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games to next year would mean the IOC having to shoulder several hundred million dollars of costs.

Japan has spent close to $13 billion on preparations.

“We also need to look into and review all the services that we provide for these postponed Games,” added Bach, who said everyone would have to make sacrifices and compromises.

He declared it too early to say what the future would look like but it was clear “probably none of us will be able to sustain every single initiative or event that we were planning before this crisis hit.

“We will all need to take a close look at the scope of some of our activities and make the necessary adjustments to the new realities.”

He added that the IOC administration would soon present a review to the Executive Board for approval.

“As challenging and difficult as the circumstances may appear right now, if we draw the right lessons from the current situation, we can shape our future to even strengthen the relevance of our Olympic Movement in the world,” he said.

“Therefore we should drive further the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020, in particular with regard to sustainability, in order to address this crisis.”

Bach said governments must include sport in their economic support programmes and cited one unnamed recent study that found sport in Europe contributes more than two percent to GDP.

He said every crisis also brought opportunities but warned that things could not be as they were before for most sports events. The IOC should further strengthen sustainability and feasibility reforms to help Olympic Games organising committees make more savings, he said.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by William Maclean

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