I take it we are all familiar with the phenomenon of the wealthy man pleading poverty in the divorce court.

There were times when I was put in mind of this during a teleconference with top International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials last Thursday (April 2) to discuss financial ramifications of the Tokyo 2020 postponement.

The first such echo came when Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director, commented on the "great financial position" Tokyo 2020 was in prior to the crisis. This was when he was asked for a broad estimate of the cost of postponement for the IOC.

It is certainly true that domestic sponsorship revenues for the next Summer Games are set to obliterate all records at well over $3 billion (£2.4 billion/€2.75 billion).

But the sports sponsorship market as a whole is buoyant, or was before this terrifying virus spread.

The IOC's The Olympic Partner (TOP) worldwide sponsorship programme has also been booming.

According to the most recent IOC accounts, TOP contributed $1.1 billion (£891 million/€1.01 billion) of revenue to the organisation in 2017 and 2018.

This compares with $450.5 million (£365 million/€414.5 million) in 2013 and 2014, the years constituting the comparable period of the prior four-year Olympic cycle.

And that amounts to a jump of more than 140 per cent.

I believe the IOC also benefits directly from Tokyo 2020's marketing efforts by taking a percentage of overall sums made.

I stand to be corrected, but I think this equates to 7.5 per cent of the cash component and five per cent of value-in-kind (VIK).

Let's assume for the sake of argument a 50:50 split between cash and VIK: 7.5 per cent of $1.5 billion amounts to well over $100 million (£81 million/€92 million); five per cent of $1.5 billion weighs in at a further $75 million (£61 million/€69 million).

The second time that divorce-court image appeared in my mind's eye came when I asked James Macleod, National Olympic Committees relations and Olympic Solidarity director, about the extension of some Olympic Solidarity programmes into 2021.

Would this require extra money, I wondered, or would it need to come out of the 2017-2020 Solidarity budget of $509 million (£412 million/€468 million)?

"We will be looking for extra money," Macleod told me. However: "Some of that extra money will actually be coming from a number of activities that have been postponed this year due to the impact of COVID-19."

It sounds from this as if the extra funding earmarked for Solidarity for 2021 will be a good deal less than the 25 per cent of the 2017-2020 budget one might intuitively expect.

So how rich is the IOC?

Well, the figures that we have date back to end-December 2018 – a tad elderly to be ideal: one can predict fairly confidently that the value of the IOC's financial investments will have taken a hit in recent weeks, just like everyone else's.

However, at that time, this is what the accounts said.

Under the heading, "Strong financial position", one reads:

"Total assets stand at $4.1 billion (£3.3 billion/€3.8 billion)…

"Cash and other financial assets, totalling $3.7 billion (£3 billion/€3.4 billion), represent 89 per cent of the IOC's total financial position.

"The IOC's total liabilities of $1.7 billion (£1.4 billion/€1.56 billion) represent 41 per cent of its total financial position.

"This is more than fully covered by the IOC's current assets, illustrating the IOC's overall financial health and long-term sustainability.

"The IOC's fund balance stands at $2.4 billion (£1.9 billion/€2.2 billion)."

The Note on financial assets quantifies them at $2.25 billion (£1.8 billion/€2.1 billion).

This is divided into four portfolios.

The "Olympic Foundation" portfolio, then worth close to $900 million (£729 million/€828 million), is said to be the "primary reserve fund of the IOC".

Its purpose is "to cover the operating expenses of the IOC over an Olympiad in which no Games were held".

The "IOC" portfolio – just under $650 million (£526 million/€598 million) – includes "funds of a restricted nature derived primarily from broadcasting rights contracts which may have to be reimbursed in foreign currency under certain circumstances, within an uncertain period of time".

The "Olympic Solidarity" portfolio – approaching $450 million (£365 million/€414 million) – is partly operational and partly an earmarked fund created post-London 2012 to "cover potential smaller future allocations from the Olympic Games revenue distribution".

Finally, the "TOP programme" portfolio – just over $260 million (£210 million/€239 million) – includes an earmarked fund set up in 2009 to "cover a possible deficit of the TOP IX Programme", or future programmes.

So you would think that the IOC, which will also have taken out insurance to cover, or part-cover, Tokyo 2020-related risks, has the wherewithal to assist the various components of the Olympic machine now confronted with serious cash flow issues as a consequence of international sport being stopped dead in its tracks.

Having said that, I can understand why the masters of the Olympic universe might wish to minimise the rate at which pennies are being disbursed from their various piggy banks to tide others over during the immediate crisis.

For one thing, even if the Games do now go ahead a year late, and even if the event does turn into a potent symbol of humanity's resilience, as it well might, you would have to say it looks extremely doubtful that the economic models which have made some sports properties, including the Olympics, hugely valuable in recent decades, will just resume, post-COVID-19, as if nothing had happened.

Yes, compelling sport will still attract big audiences; so its value ought to remain substantial.

But, once something akin to normality is restored, it is going to take a while to sort out just what the new realities of the market are.

With national economies in freefall, how many corporations, you wonder, will be in any position to direct vanity dollars into sponsoring sports properties?

And, with advertising stunted and consumers reining back on outgoings, how many media companies will succumb?

The other, I think, highly significant point that I wanted to make is that there are, for the moment, few if any rules governing how the moneybags IOC deals with the extraordinary current situation.

Until some sort of framework designating how those showing up (metaphorically) cap-in-hand on the shores of Lake Geneva can expect to be treated, I would be worried that those calling the shots might be tempted to use the situation to leverage concessions in unrelated areas.

What, for example, might World Sailing be persuaded to agree to in exchange for getting the bulk of its projected Tokyo 2020 payment in accordance with the original schedule this coming September?

As acknowledged in recent days by a senior official of the sailing body, the Games' postponement has "made our financial challenges more acute".

I reported on these "challenges" last November – when few of us had heard of coronavirus.

And of course, while sports bodies are in the position of waiting and hoping for help from the IOC, you would expect them to think very hard before voicing criticism of President Thomas Bach and his colleagues, even if, heaven forfend, such criticism appeared justified.

In sum, COVID-19 has made cash king.

Having grown rich by exploiting commercial mechanisms first developed under former President Juan Antonio Samaranch, the power of the IOC over the Olympic ecosystem has been magnified still further.