Insurers on the hook for Olympics delay

  • Games put back: the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics will be costly for insurers, but less so than a complete cancellation  (Photograph by Jae Hong/AP)

    Games put back: the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics will be costly for insurers, but less so than a complete cancellation (Photograph by Jae Hong/AP)


LONDON (Reuters) — Delaying the Olympics is likely to cost insurers much less than cancelling the Tokyo Games altogether, with a chance that some of those involved may not have policies specifically covering a postponement, industry sources say.

The Tokyo Olympics were postponed yesterday to 2021, the first such delay in the modern Games’ 124-year history, as the coronavirus crisis forced the delay to one of the last international sporting events still standing this year.

Jefferies analysts have estimated the insured cost of the Games at $2 billion, including TV rights and sponsorship, plus $600 million for hospitality.

The International Olympic Committee takes out around $800 million of protection for each Summer Games, which covers most of the roughly $1 billion investment it makes in each host city.

After the postponement, the IOC, local organisers, sponsors and hospitality and travel providers are among organisations who may look to recoup some money from insurers for the delay.

However, this process is likely to be complicated.

“Cancellation insurance usually includes postponement as standard,” said Tim Thornhill, sales director, entertainment and sport, at Lloyd’s of London broker Tysers, who also said this might not always be the case.

Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said yesterday it was not clear who would pay the extra costs arising from the postponement.

The cost of postponing the Games was not discussed by IOC chief Thomas Bach and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe yesterday, Bach said, adding: “This is about protecting lives.”

Japan has put up $12 billion to host the 2020 Olympics.

Leigh Ann Rossi, chief operating officer of Sports and Entertainment at insurance broker BWD, said that for those organisations whose policies do cover the costs of postponement, “a claim would be less ... than for a full cancellation”.

Rossi said it was difficult for insurers to determine an exact payout on such cover until after a postponed event finally takes place.

Insurance industry sources said the payouts would be smaller because companies would still be able to make money out of the Olympics when it finally happens.

Simon Sloane, partner at law firm Fieldfisher, said postponement insurance could cover money already spent and additional costs incurred to rearrange the event.

Few sponsors have given details of their insurance. Comcast Corp has insurance if the Olympics don’t proceed, chief executive officer Brian Roberts said at a conference earlier this month.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal has sold more than $1.25 billion in national advertising for the games, a new record for any broadcaster.

Insurance losses are likely to be borne by Lloyd’s of London, a commercial insurance marketplace, home to dozens of specialist insurers, industry sources say.

Lloyd’s has asked its members to detail their potential losses from the coronavirus pandemic, and is due to report the aggregate 2019 results of its syndicate members tomorrow.

Lloyd’s declined to comment. Lloyd’s insurers Beazley, Hiscox and Tokio Marine Kiln typically insure big sporting events such as the Olympics. Beazley declined to comment. Hiscox and Tokio Marine did not respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

Reinsurers such as Munich Re and Swiss Re share part of the burden of large losses with insurers in return for part of the premium.

Munich Re has a $500 million exposure to the Tokyo Olympics, one source said. Munich Re declined to comment.

Swiss Re has a $250 million exposure, chief financial officer John Dacey told analysts last week.

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Published Mar 25, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 11:31 pm)

Insurers on the hook for Olympics delay

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