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Japan Olympics minister hints Games could be held later in 2020

International broadcasters could have some sway over the decision given how much money they spend for broadcast rights.

TOKYO, Japan — Japan's Olympic minister says the contract to hold the Tokyo Games only specifies the event has to be held during 2020, signaling the possibility that the Olympics could be postponed to later this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seiko Hashimoto's response to a question in the upper house of parliament implies the Olympics would not have to start on July 24 as planned.

Hashimoto told parliament “the IOC has the right to cancel the games only they are not held during 2020.” She said “this can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”

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International Olympic Committee officials and Tokyo organizers have repeatedly said they expect the Olympics to open on schedule.

The Associated Press reports international broadcasters would have some sway over any schedule changes. The IOC gets 73% of its $5.7 billion income every four years from selling broadcast rights.

About half of that TV income is from NBC, which often allows it a say as to which Olympics events air in prime time. Because a delayed Olympics might creep into the NFL season, it would potentially affect NBC's successful and lucrative Sunday Night Football slot.