IOC Sets New Dates for Postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Key insight:

The Summer Olympics, postponed last week as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, have been rescheduled.

The Games—which will still be called the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020—will take place from July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympic Games will be held from Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021. The new dates were agreed upon today by the the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the governments of Japan and Tokyo.

“These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organization of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the IOC said in a statement. “The new dates, exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020 [Olympic Games: July 24 -Aug. 9, 2020; Paralympic Games: Aug. 25-Sept. 6, 2020] also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum.”

On March 24, the Summer Olympics were officially postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IOC said at the time that the Games would be held “not later than summer 2021.”

The postponement deprived NBCUniversal of what its execs had long been calling “the media event of the year”—and a key element of its marketing campaign for upcoming streaming service Peacock—while leaving it with a $1.25 billion-plus ad revenue hole for 2020.

Postponing the Olympics will have a massive impact on Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which began marketing the event in 2018. On March 3, the company said it had surpassed $1.25 billion in Tokyo Olympics ad sales—a new ad revenue record for the games—and had sold out 90% of its national ad inventory for the Summer Games, along with its Tokyo Paralympics ad inventory.

Discovery Inc., which has Olympics rights through 2024 in several European countries via Eurosport, will also feel a major ad revenue pinch.

After the IOC announced last week’s postponement, NBC Sports said in a statement: “Given the unprecedented obligation we all face to contain COVID-19 globally, we fully understand the decision made by the IOC, Japanese government, and the health organizations they are working with to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics until 2021. We have no doubt that the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee will put on an exceptional Games next year, and that the Olympic flame will once again unite the world and provide a light at the end of this tunnel.”

As for how the postponement will affect the company’s Olympics ad sales, an NBCUniversal spokesperson said in a statement: “NBCUniversal is actively working with our advertising partners to navigate this postponement, and we’re exploring all options to best serve their brands and our consumers this year, and into 2021.”

Meanwhile, Discovery released its own statement about the postponement: “Discovery fully supports the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee’s plan to stage the Olympic Games in 2021 and to make every effort to ensure the well-being of spectators, athletes, staff and the international community. Our essential planning and deliverables are complete and will now shift into next year. We will continue to develop our products and offerings to best serve our customers and marketing partners in 2021.”

Both NBCUniversal and Discovery previously said they had purchased insurance policies and will be covered in the event the Olympics are canceled.

For NBCUniversal, the Olympics’ postponement has a significant impact beyond ad revenue and schedule holes. The Tokyo Games were going to be the centerpiece of NBCUniversal’s marketing plan for Peacock, set to debut nationally on July 15, just a week before the Olympics were going to debut.

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