IOC supports Tokyo’s plans to relocate Olympic venues


Olympic venue costs for the 2020 Games could be reduced to about ¥260 billion ($2.2 billion) from an earlier estimate of ¥460 billion ($3.9 billion), according to a report released Wednesday following discussions between officials with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo’s original estimate from its candidature file totaled ¥153.8 billion ($1.3 billion) for the construction of 10 new facilities for the event.

Tokyo’s original bid proposal called for 28 of the 31 facilities, including the main stadium, to be located within an 8-km radius of the Olympic Village. But the plan ran into trouble because of rising construction costs.

“The important thing for us is that since we commenced these discussions, (the head) of 2020 have come out and specifically said that we should make excellent use of existing facilities, and that as far as I’m concerned overrides that 8-km philosophy” IOC Coordination Commission Chairman John Coates said at a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Coates, who is visiting Tokyo for the second time to monitor the progress of the city’s preparation for the Games, said reducing the burden on taxpayers amid ballooning construction costs will outweigh leaving behind a legacy in 2020. He also gave Tokyo a thumbs-up on its progress so far.

The IOC backs the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee’s proposals to change the location of venues, he said, such as moving the basketball tournament to Saitama Super Arena, 30 km outside of the capital.

“It was a very positive experience when we went to the Saitama Super Arena. We’ve been in discussion about that as an alternative for at least the finals of the men’s and women’s basketball for some time now,” said Coates.

The fact that the venue is being used for the 2006 world basketball championships is another strong point, he said.

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, president of the local organizing committee, proposed a number of venue changes to the IOC, for events such as badminton, triathlon and sailing, among others.

Coates even said the IOC suggested to Tokyo 2020 that the basketball preliminaries could also be held outside of Tokyo in cities like Osaka.

“It’s early days yet, but we have suggested to the organizing committee that for the preliminaries just as for football, they may care to look at other venues like Osaka. This would give us an opportunity to take the Games to other parts of Japan,” he said.

“It would increase capacity and revenue in terms of ticket sales. It’s something still to be developed, still to be approved by the organizing committee.”

Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe also confirmed that three of the 10 venues proposed for construction — including the stadiums for basketball, badminton and sailing in Saitama Prefecture — will be scrapped.

“Doing this in different areas is an idea to be considered,” Masuzoe said after attending a special metropolitan assembly committee meeting the same day.

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  • Manish Prabhune