Syracuse University

03/24/2020 | News release | Archived content

Postponement of Summer Olympics Answers One Question But Raises Several More, Experts Say

For Immediate Release:

March 24, 2020

For your continuing coverage of the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Olympic sports marketing and sponsorship expert Rick Burton and sports law expert John Wolohan are available for interviews.

Rick Burton is the David B. Falk Endowed Professor of Sport Management in Syracuse University's David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. Burton served as the chief marketing officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where he directed the USOC's partnerships for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and USOC sponsorship activation.

For use in your stories, here's what Burton says about why it won't be easy moving the Summer Olympics to 2021:

'Moving the Summer Games into 2021 will disrupt the sport federations who long ago planned and booked venues for major competitions in their respective disciplines in 2021. So it's not as easy as just having the IOC tell the Tokyo Organizing Committee that we are postponing the Games from 2020 into another year. The Summer Olympics can feature more than 30 sport disciplines, and there are 33 sport Federations in the ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations).

'My prediction is that eventually, the IOC will announce either to cancel the Games or move the Summer Games into 2022. They have previously said 'there is no Plan B.' But I think Plan B will eventually come out and feature a move to 2022. That being said, there will also be compelling reasons for complete cancellation.'

Attorney John Wolohan is a professor of sports law at Syracuse University's Falk College who specializes in sport law, sport doping, antitrust and labor law, and rights of athletes. For use in your stories, here's what he says about the legal ramifications of postponing the Olympics for the athletes, organizers and Japan:

'The postponement raises several legal issues. First, what about all the facilities? The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games was scheduled to release control over the facilities. The athletes' housing was scheduled to be turned into private housing. If the Games are postponed a year, the Organizing Committee will be forced to pay for the upkeep on the facilities for another year.

'The TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) Olympic Sponsorship agreements also tend to be for a four-year period. If the Games are postponed, will sponsors get to use the Olympic logos for another year free of charge? Will they have to pay extra? What happens to those who bought in for the period after the Tokyo Games, can they now use the Olympic logos during the Tokyo Games?

'As for the athletes, the questions raised are just as serious. Do the athletes who have already qualified for the 2020 Games automatically qualify for the 2021 Games? Whatever the answer, is that fair? What about sponsorship agreements athletes may have - are they now void? What about those athletes who were going professional after the Games? Do they wait around another year?

'While pushing back the Games until 2021 is clearly the right decision, Japan and the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have already spend billions on the Games preparation, and it looks like Japan will be forced to spend millions more and wait another 15 months before they can host the Olympic world.'

Thank you for your consideration. To request an interview with Prof. Burton or Prof. Wolohan, please contact:

Matt Michael
Media Relations Specialist
T 315.443.2990 M 315.254.9037
[email protected]