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$4.2 billion: How much has the 2020 Tokyo Olympics cost Japan?

·3-min read
A busy street in the Toyko district of Shinjuku at night and the Olympic rings.
Postponing the event alone cost the country over $4 billion (Source: Getty)

Postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games last year cost Japan an estimated $4.2 billion (640 billion yen) but it stood to lose a great deal more had it cancelled the games altogether.

Japan would have lost a whopping $56 billion if they had decided not to go ahead with the 2020 Olympics, Statista data estimates.

In the fifth version of the Olympic budget which was announced in December last year, the Tokyo Organising Committee estimated it would spend $203 billion in the preparation of the games set to begin on Friday.

Chart showing the estimates costs for Japan should the country, postpose, simplify, have no spectators or cancel the event.
Estimated costs for Japan (Source: Statista)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic games has been met with protests and controversy as Japan struggles to keep a lid on the newest COVID-19 outbreak.

To try and quell fears, the Olympics is taking place inside a COVID-19 bubble however six days before the opening ceremony the first COVID-19 case was reported in the Olympic village.

Could the 2020 Tokyo Olympics still be cancelled?

Technically yes. The Olympic committee can still call off the event even though it is set to begin on Friday - though it is unlikely.

The Tokyo Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto did not rule out a last minute cancellation when speaking to reporters overnight.

"We cannot predict what the epidemic will look like in the future. So as for what to do should there be any surge of positive cases, we'll discuss accordingly if that happens," Muto said during the press conference held in Tokyo on Tuesday.

"During the last five-party talk, it was clearly stated we'll continue to monitor the coronavirus situation, and a five-party talk will be held if necessary."

Why do the Olympics cost so much?

The majority of the expenses come from venue-related costs, such as the stadiums, pools etc. to house all the different events.

Japan built 19 new venues for the games, 10 of which are temporary, and renovated 18 others.

Plus, the opening and closing ceremonies also take a fair whack from the hip pocket, with the committee estimating them to cost around $204 million.

Considering Japan will not be making any money from ticket sales due to social distancing measures in place and a lack of international tourism due to border closures, the country’s spending far outweighs any revenue it stands to make.

10 most expensive Olympics in history

In general, the Olympics has never been a profitable endeavour for any country but some have lost far more than others.

Here is a list of the most expensive games in history.

  1. Sochi Winter Olympics, 2014 – $55 Billion

  2. Beijing Summer Olympics, 2008 – $40 Billion

  3. London Summer Olympics, 2012 – $14.6 Billion

  4. Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, 2016 – $13.2 Billion

  5. Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, 2018 – $12.9 Billion

  6. Barcelona Summer Olympics, 1992 – $9.4 Billion

  7. Vancouver Winter Olympics, 2010 – $7 Billion

  8. Moscow Summer Olympics, 1980 – $6.3 Billion

  9. Montreal Summer Olympics, 1976 – $6.1 Billion

  10. Sydney Summer Olympics, 2000 – $4.2 Billion

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