NBC Awaits Olympics Final Decision on Likely 2020 Tokyo Games Delay

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach — Getty — H 2020

"We are prepared to stand behind any decision made by the IOC, the Japanese government, and the world health officials," said a NBC Sports spokesperson.

After several weeks of claims by the International Olympic Committee that it would be staying the course with the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo despite widespread calls for a delay or cancellation amid ever-mounting coronavirus fears, the planned event is looking more and more likely to shuffle dates.

In response to the growing discussions, a NBC Sports spokesperson on Monday issued the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “These are extraordinary and unprecedented times, and we fully support the IOC’s decision to step up its scenario-planning for the Tokyo Olympics. We are prepared to stand behind any decision made by the IOC, the Japanese government, and the world health officials with whom they are working regarding the Tokyo Olympics.”

This comes the same day a member of the IOC told USA Today that the Games would pivot to 2021, after two large countries, Australia and Canada, revealed they would not be sending athletes if the Games were held this year. “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Veteran IOC member Dick Pound told the outlet. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Additionally, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a Monday parliamentary session that postponement was likely in an effort to safeguard the health of the athletes, though he maintained “cancellation is not an option.”

This development comes just days after IOC president Thomas Bach gave a somewhat defiant interview to The New York Times in which he shrugged off concerns about congregating spectators and athletes — many of the latter unable to train during the current pandemic. “We owe it to all the half of the world that watches the Olympics to say we are not putting the cancellation of the Games on the agenda,” said Bach.

The Games are currently scheduled to run July 24-Aug. 9 in the Japanese capital. Multiple reports suggested an official decision about a postponement would be made in the coming weeks.

While not entirely surprising, the news is a rough blow to NBCUniversal — the U.S. telecast rights holder, which was also planning to lean on the Olympics in its heavy promotion for its upcoming streamer Peacock.

Just a month ago, NBC announced $1.25 billion in Olympic ad sales, having already sold 90 percent of its inventory with nearly five months still to go before the opening ceremonies. The economic stakes for NBCUniversal are almost without comparison. The company in 2011 paid $4.38 billion to the IOC to secure the Games through 2020, then agreed to a $7.75 billion extension in 2014 that will keep them on the network through 2032.

The IOC did not immediately respond to request for comment.