Mayor Ichiro Matsui has revealed that Osaka’s long-planned integrated resort facility won’t open until at least 2027, and possibly as late as 2028, due to delays brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the media on Thursday, Matsui acknowledged Osaka’s IR timeline was now running between one and two years later than first hoped, with the government having previously been pushing to open an IR before the start of the 2025 World Expo.
The latest delay was brought about by the inability of officials to meet with Osaka’s candidate consortium, MGM Resorts Japan and Orix, due to global travel restrictions, while the operators themselves had requested the submission deadline for RFP documentation be extended from July and the schedule reviewed.
Osaka’s goal remains to open an IR on the artificial island of Yumeshima in Osaka Bay.
“I have received a message from the operator asking for a short extension,” Matsui said Thursday. “The investment capacity of the operator has taken a blow, and we will consider this when we are determining an opening time. I can foresee an overall delay of between one and two years.”
In March, Osaka city and the prefecture decided to delay both the RFP submission deadline and operator selection timeline, along with land transfer, by three to six months. Any hope of opening before the 2025 World Expo was also shelved.
Osaka’s delay comes as the national government ponders delaying its own selection process. Publication of Japan’s IR Fundamental Policy was originally expected in January of this year, but as of June it has yet to be released.
Matsui stated, “We think the central government is considering extending the application period (for local governments).”