While organisers of the event maintain that the show will go on, and have rebuffed reports suggesting otherwise, it would be unwise not to at least consider that the already-delayed Tokyo Olympics may be cancelled this year.
As Covid case numbers rise around the world, even if Japan – which is currently under lockdown in a state of emergency – can vaccinate all of its citizens beforehand, globally, inoculation just isn’t happening fast enough. And with news of delays of Pfizer deliveries to major European destinations – and elsewhere – now being reported, a considerable number of people will likely not be able to travel to watch the games, as they had originally planned.
Simon Henderson, Executive DIrector at US brokerage and risk management firm Gallagher, told Reuters that cancellation of the Olympics would be by far the largest loss for the cancellation insurance market in recent times. “The Olympics is a World Cup, it’s a tennis tournament, it’s an athletics tournament. It’s swimming, everything all in one – definitely a huge headache.”
What’s more, broadcasters, networks, professional sports teams, entertainers and other organisations will all have had event cancellation in policies in place, as Leigh Ann Rossi, COO at broker NFP Sports and Entertainment Group, told Reuters. And, as many of these would have been taken out many years prior to the Games, they would likely still include cover for infectious diseases.
Insurers to be hit hardest
Reuters has identified a myriad insurers who could face major pay-outs if the Olympics do not go ahead this year, among them Lloyd’s of London, Munich Re, Swiss Re, and Allianz.
For now, however, officials remain stern in their message that the Tokyo 2021 Olympics will go ahead. If so, they will likely look very different this year. And ITIJ also predicts that insurers may face a considerable number of travel insurance claims; if international visitors are no longer able to meet the entry requirements to the destination (which could include proof of a Covid vaccination, if not a quarantine period), they may need to cancel their trips.
Or, for those who are considering travelling, they will likely require much more flexible cover with Covid-19-related cancellation and medical cover.