Former International Olympic Committee vice president Kevan Gosper says the United Nations might be called on to help decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics.
Gosper, who has held many roles within the IOC and Australian Olympic Committee and was also vice president of the Sydney Olympics organising committee, described the Tokyo Games as being in a “precarious” position and said he wouldn’t bet on it going ahead.
The Olympics are to set start on July 23 but face mounting opposition in Tokyo with COVID-19 rates still surging there and around the world.
“There are only two players – Tokyo and the IOC – and with all of the uncertainties and the extra costs, it will only take on of them to blink and the whole thing will come unstuck,” he told ABC radio.
Gosper, who is still an honorary IOC member, said that the organising committee and IOC, who own the event, could look to the United Nations if they reach a deadlock on whether to proceed or not.
“If you were looking for a third party that recognises that this has gone beyond being an issue just related to sport, or just related to national interest, by virtue of the global COVID (pandemic) and its impact then there could be a case to go the United Nations and seek their involvement in arbitrating whether the games go ahead or not in the interest of the general health of athletes, administrators, viewers and rest of the world,” Gosper said.
He said this wasn’t unprecedented with the United Nations involved in the decision to include a refugees representation at the Olympics and also East Timor at the Sydney Games.
Japan has invested a reported $25 billion while the IOC also needs the Games to proceed as it is heavily reliant on broadcast fees and sponsorship however a recent survey in Tokyo showed 80 per cent of residents wanted it either cancelled or postponed again.
Gosper warned that if it did proceed it wouldn’t be a normal Games.
“The athletes will be under extra stress and it will affect their performance and a lot of countries won’t be able to send athletes,” he said.
“There’s only 12 countries whose residents are currently welcome to come into Japan.”
More than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes will have to enter Japan, along with tens of thousands of officials, judges, VIPs, media and broadcasters.
Organisers have yet to decide if spectators will be allowed.