Osaka city and prefecture have abandoned plans to open an integrated resort in time for the 2025 World Expo after being forced to postpone the operator selection process and transfer of land by up to six months due to the impact of COVID-19.
Officials announced on Friday that the delay was primarily due to current restrictions on international travel, including between Japan and the United States – home of Osaka’s only current operator candidate, MGM Resorts. MGM and its local partner ORIX were the only consortium to submit an application to bid for an Osaka IR earlier this year following the withdrawal of Galaxy Entertainment Group and Genting Singapore.
Osaka had previously requested the bid be submitted by April 2020 with the final decision to be made by a selection committee around June, but both of these processes will now be extended by three months. A final decision on the city and prefecture’s operator partner is now expected by September at the earliest.
The handover of the land on Yumeshima was supposed to happen in the autumn of 2021 but is now expected in the Spring of 2022, around six months later.
Osaka has subsequently confirmed that opening an IR before the start of the 2025 World Expo is no longer being considered, although the policy of a full opening by the end of 2026 has not changed.