Olympic Games woes

Who would have thought, when COVID-19 first started seriously appearing on our radar screens back in March last year, that in the UK we would be on our third lockdown, with no immediate respite in sight? Yet here we are, in a really grim week which has seen the official death toll from the virus top 100,000 in this country alone. Extraordinary times. Thank goodness we have begun to roll out the vaccine programme.

To speak of the economic consequences of the pandemic can seem a little trite given the awful toll it has, and continues to take, on the lives of so many people around the world. And that’s just thinking of the immediate health consequences- who really knows what Long-COVID will mean for the populace?

Hopefully things will become clearer soon, but in the meantime, we are left with a great deal of uncertainty, and – for a second summer in succession – the cancellation of major events such as the Glastonbury Festival, unable to secure event cancellation insurance from an understandably ravaged and reticent market.

And what of the Olympic Games, already postponed for a year but whose future this year still remains in doubt despite optimistic statements from the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board, which met this week with much of Japan under a state of emergency due to a third wave of COVID-19 infections?

The IOC and Japanese organisers have been adamant that another postponement isn’t an option- only cancellation. Yet cancellation would be a catastrophic loss for the market, with analysts at Jefferies estimating the Tokyo Olympics is insured for around $2 billion, plus a further $600 million for hospitality. Ouch.

Which is why insurers will be glad to hear that the organisers of the Olympic Games are increasingly bullish that one of the biggest sporting events of the year will go ahead, even though IOC  president Thomas Bach has conceded for the first time that fans might have to miss out on the Tokyo Games to ensure they are safe.

Speaking to reporters, Bach dismissed suggestions concerning cancellation and said the fact that sporting events had already taken place safely gave him growing confidence.

“We have at the moment the handball world championships with 32 teams from all over the world in a bubble of 3,000 people in Egypt,” he said. “More than 7,000 events have been organised by the international federations and out of 175,000 COVID tests only 0.18% were positive. The competitions could be run and organised and none of them developed into a hotspot. This is why we are so, so confident.”

Bach said all 206 national Olympic committees, along with the sports federations, athletes representatives and Japanese organisers, stood behind the IOC in wanting the Games to go ahead from 23 July. To which one will add, without any hint of malice: also those underwriting the £2.6 billion event cancellation risk.

Enjoy this week’s round-up,

Marcus

The IOC and Japanese organisers have been adamant that another postponement isn’t an option- only cancellation. Yet cancellation would be a catastrophic loss for the market, with analysts at Jefferies estimating the Tokyo Olympics is insured for around $2 billion, plus a further $600 million for hospitality. Ouch.

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