A University of Notre Dame professor, specializing in sports economics, says the International Olympic Committee made the right choice in postponing the 2020 Olympic Games for an extended period.
“Moving the Olympics back a month or two would not address the fundamental problem that things are going to get much worse,” said Richard Sheehan, professor of finance at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
The IOC announced Tuesday the Tokyo games scheduled to begin July 24 have been postponed to a date “no later than summer of 2021” due to the pandemic.
Despite the outbreak, the IOC was hesitant to call off the games. However, as athletes struggled to find places to train and qualifying events were disrupted, they criticized the IOC and began calling for postponement, according to Sheehan.
“If you’re someone like (Olympic champion sprinter) Usain Bolt, are you going to jeopardize your life by going out and training hard, putting a lot of stress on your body and then associate with people that may well have the virus may well transmitted to you if you haven’t got it already,” said Sheehan.
He also thinks sponsors, like Coca-Cola or beer makers, who paid millions of dollars in TV advertising are probably “breathing a sigh of relief” since their messaging would not match the current environment associated with the pandemic.
“That’s not a good marketing venue. That’s a horrible marketing venue because you don’t have any message that you can easily communicate that’s going to be of assistance.”
Sheehan says the IOC decision speaks to the enormity of the situation.
“The decision to move the Olympics back a year recognizes that the world faces a problem that is unlike anything that any of us have seen in our lives, and we need to take steps now to minimize the damage while at the same time taking steps that show our resilience and our optimism for the future.”
The Olympics have been canceled in modern times due to war, including 1916 (World War I) and 1940 and 1944 (World War II). But this is the first time they have been postponed.
“Kudos to the Olympic committee for striking the right balance,” said Sheehan.
He said the Olympics’ governing body is demonstrating the virtues of the quadrennial competition, “and offer hope for the time when we have passed this crisis and the world will emerge with rekindled hopes in the ideals like those espoused by the Olympics.”
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, University of Notre Dame finance professor Richard Sheehan said IOC’s decision was pretty straight forward.