Amid the spread of COVID-19 and fears that the first of the integrated resorts projects may be delayed, the government of Shinzo Abe has reassured all parties that things are moving on track.
The First Integrated Resort in Japan Won’t Be Delayed, Consultants Say
With the world bracing for the next recession and governments shutting down completely in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Japan has decided to push ahead with its Integrated Resort (IR) project, a series of resorts that will host Japan’s first commercial casinos.
According to consultants cited by GGRAsia, the project would not be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is likely to die down by the time construction works begin. With foreign investors having already put money down for the realization of the project, the process should continue as planned.
Global Market Advisors LLC’s casino consultant Brendan Bussmann clarified by explaining that while COVID-19 would take a toll on public forums, it would not interfere with suitor-cities timelines.
Japan’s Stance on the Integrated Resort Project in a Time of Pandemic
In fact, cities continue to look for a suitable partner to carry on with the IR project and bring in future economic benefit for their respective region. Not least, the IR project is the brainchild of the Shinzo Abe’s government, which has defended it even against allegations of corruption in the partner-selection process.
The bribery scandal that echoed across Japan in December and the better part of January was quickly replaced by the outbreak of the coronavirus which put Wuhan Province in China on a complete lockdown with millions of people quarantined.
Japan has responded in a more conservative method to the crisis choosing to continue business as usual. Some have compared the potential repercussions of the pandemic with the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed 18,000 people.
Yet, the country seems to be firmly set on pursuing all major projects that it has taken up, including the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are still reportedly on track according to Japanese Olympic Committee executives.
A Window of Opportunity for Japan
Commenting specifically on the Integrated Resort project, though, Bussmann that there was still plenty of time for regional applicants to submit a request with the central government. In fact, there are 16 months to the deadline, making it easy for local prefectures to prepare.
However, one thing that remains a challenge is collecting enough public input, which has become more difficult since interested parties are trying to steer clear of any public gatherings. Another way to look at it is that the COVID-19 outbreak has actually shifted the focus from the bribery scandal, helping the government bury the issue.
While fears originally persisted that the coronavirus would significantly delay the project, the Abe government has consulted relevant parties to say that the IR is coming on time and without any unplanned delays.
This has not stopped people from hypothesizing that the 2026 deadline would be impossible to reach and the project would be pushed back. However, the request for proposal (RFP) process has not been stopped.
With the WHO expecting the pandemic to be brought under control by the spring of 2021 at the latest, business will go as usual for the yet-to-be Integrated Resorts project in Japan.