Ichiro Matsui, mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka (pictured), says it is possible the request-for-proposal (RFP) phase of its tilt at having a casino resort could be put back even further, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The official noted in comments carried on Monday by the Mainichi newspaper, that the metropolis might also reset the target opening date for an integrated resort (IR), as such large scale tourism complexes with casinos are known in Japan.
On March 27, Osaka prefecture had already announced changes in its IR implementation policy draft and RFP application requirements, but had not outlined the reason, as per media reports.
As of that announcement, the submission deadline of the RFP proposal was put back to July, instead of April, and operator selection was put back to September, rather than June, as had been earlier proposed. The planned date for opening such a scheme remains currently as the financial year ending March 2027.
In February the Osaka authorities said the only qualified applicant for their RFP phase was a consortium consisting of United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts International and Japanese financial services group Orix Corp.
Starting on Wednesday (April 8), seven prefectures in Japan including Osaka are to enter a state of emergency for a month in relation to Covid-19, the disease associated with the novel coronavirus.
According to information given on Wednesday on a website run by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the country had just over 4,300 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of that time. Osaka prefecture itself had at least 481 cases.
The other prefectures being put under emergency measures aside from Osaka are: Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hyogo and Fukuoka.
Under the move, local governments can urge their citizens to refrain from non-essential travel and movement outside. Those governments are also being given powers under which they can temporarily close schools, social welfare facilities, theatres, music-performance venues and sports stadiums.
The state of emergency declaration also empowers the local governments in Japan to take control – temporarily – of facilities that could be used to supplement standard healthcare premises.
(Updated 10.35am, Apr 9)
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