Business of Sport Expert Discusses Holding Summer Olympics in a Pandemic

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Prof. Norm O’Reilly

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to reveal its plan for how the Tokyo Games can be held this summer amid the pandemic. Will fans be allowed to attend? Will athletes need to be vaccinated? Should the Games be held at all?

A University of Guelph expert on the business of sport believes the Games will go ahead.

Dr. Norman O’Reilly is the director of the International Institute for Sport Business and Leadership at U of G’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, and studies sports marketing, sponsorship and finance.

O’Reilly said he believes organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will do whatever is necessary to put on an event this summer.

“The Games will go ahead this summer. It’s just a question of how ‘bubbled’ it will be,” he said.

While the potential revenues from broadcast fees may affect whether or not to hold the Games, O’Reilly said the cost of running events without tickets, merchandising and sponsor activations will be high.

“I think it is more about wanting to see the Games be held rather than a financial decision. Fortunately, the IOC has the ability to think like this,” he said.

As for whether athletes should be required to be vaccinated, O’Reilly said the topic is polarizing. On the one hand, he said, if Olympic rules require vaccinations, many people will be angry if athletes are vaccinated ahead of other vulnerable citizens.

“But on the other, these Olympic Games might be good for worldwide mental health.”

O’Reilly is available for interviews.

Contact:

Prof. Norm O’Reilly
noreilly@uoguelph.ca