Paralympics rule out going to IOC to solve cash-flow problem
Published Thursday, April 9, 2020 1:57AM EDT Last Updated Thursday, April 9, 2020 2:00AM EDT
TOKYO -- The International Paralympic Committee has a "cash flow" problem, but its president has ruled out going to the International Olympic Committee for help.
President Andrew Parsons says he is trying to cut 5% from the budget, which was listed at 24.1 million euros ($26.1 million) in the IPC's 2018 annual report.
The cash shortfall stems from the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic postponement until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"At the moment we are not discussing that with them (IOC)," Parsons said in a teleconference with selected media. "We are trying to solve our issues internally."
The IPC already receives several million dollars from the IOC under a 2018 agreement. Parsons declined to provide the specific figure.
"Unfortunately, this agreement contains some confidentiality clauses and this amount if one of them," Parsons said.
Many international sports federations are heavily dependent on the IOC for support, and for some it's nearly their sole income. The IOC generates $5.7 billion in a four-year Olympic cycle, and 91% is from selling broadcast rights and sponsorships.
Last month, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview that the IOC has "no cash-flow problem."
The IPC appears to be financially stable. However, it faced a major crisis in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro when the local Olympic organizing committee ran out of money and needed a million-dollar government bailout to fund the Paralympics.
"Until 2017 we were not receiving any funding directly from the IOC and we were surviving, thriving," Parsons said. "We were delivering a very good Paralympic Games. Let's say we are not dependent on this amount coming directly from the IOC."
Parsons said the IPC cash-flow problem was due partly to broadcast rights holders who want to delay their payments until 2021 when the product is delivered. Parsons said it's not a question of "losing money" but rather a need for some temporary belt tightening.
"Like all businesses we are tremendously affected by the COVID-19 crisis," Parsons said. He said he was sifting through 150 contracts that are games-related.
"We have no plans to let any staff go at the moment," he said.
Parsons said his major worry -- as it was if the Paralympics were held this year -- is finding hotel rooms in Tokyo suitable for people with disabilities.
About 4,400 Paralympic athletes are to stay in the Olympic Village, which has been designed for wheelchair access. But some staff, media, and fans -- many with disabilities -- will need modified hotel rooms. These are in short supply in Tokyo, where hotel rooms are typically small and bath and toilet areas are seldom suitable for wheelchair users.
"It took us a lot of time and effort to get this ball moving and we don't want to see it going back because of the postponement," Parsons said. "Of course we are concerned that we will be short of rooms."
Parsons said the sharp business downturn caused by the virus is likely to affect hotel owners, who may be discouraged from making short-term investments to reconfigure rooms.
"So we don't know if this will still be a priority for these hotels," he said.