Osaka has announced revisions to its IR Implementation Policy which will see the city and prefecture accept submissions from new applicants until 6 April 2021.
The decision to open the door for more applicants comes after Osaka revised its IR Implementation Policy in February to include the potential for phased openings of integrated facilities, starting from the late 2020s. Authorities said Friday that the decision to allow new applicants was to ensure “fairness” in the process, which has changed as a result of delays to Japan’s IR selection timeline brought about by COVID-19.
However, it will no doubt be concerning to MGM Resorts and its local partner ORIX which not only remains Osaka’s only current candidate but was also the only one to have complied with the RFP criteria by the original deadline.
Regardless of whether any additional operators provide submissions to enter the Osaka race by 6 April, the local government plans to leave the door ajar for final RFP documents to be provided until July with an operator to be selected around September. With the consent of both city and prefectural councils, Osaka then plans, along with its chosen partner, to apply in April 2022 to the national government for an IR property. If approved, it is anticipated the operator will break ground sometime after 2023.
Osaka insisted it had made this latest decision in consideration of operators who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a requirement for its operator partner to build a world-class IR that exceeds the national standard remains unchanged in Osaka’s implementation policy. This includes exhibition facilities covering 100,000 square meters, of which 20,000 must be complete by opening, expanding to 60,000 square meters within 15 years and 100,000 square meters within the initial operation period of 35 years, as stipulated by the national government.
The full scale of hotel accommodations, also set at 100,000 square meters, must meet the national standard at time of opening.
Of the other locations vying for one of the three licenses, on Friday Nagasaki completed its latest selection round, narrowing the number of candidates from five to three. Wakayama and Yokohama are the other locations to have confirmed their intention to apply.