• Kyodo

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to scale down facilities for the 2020 Summer Games once the sports extravaganza is over, drawing a lesson from London’s post-Olympic management.

After the London hosted the Olympics in 2012, some venues were converted to accommodate a smaller number of spectators.

In March, the newly refurbished and converted Aquatics Center opened in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with a total seating capacity of 2,500, reduced from 17,500 for the Olympics.

Since its opening, about 500,000 people have visited the facility, which now offers activities such as lane swimming and diving.

When a Kyodo reporter visited the center on the evening of Oct. 30, several dozen people were in the water and the seating space was packed with spectators.

Peter Tudor, director of venues for London Legacy Development Corp., which is involved in managing the Olympic facilities, said that keeping the maintenance cost down has been a top priority under an urban renewal project.

The main venue, Olympic Stadium, is currently undergoing a major renovation in which its seating capacity is shrinking to 54,000 from 80,000.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said that its Olympic Aquatics Center in the Yumenoshima district in Koto Ward, designed to accommodate 20,000 spectators during the Olympics, will similarly be scaled down to a seating capacity of 5,000.

The center will host swimming, synchronized swimming and diving during the Olympics. It will cover 57,850 sq. meters, which will be reduced to 32,920 sq. meters afterward.

The facility will be redesigned so it can still host international events but will also serve as a training center and a public swimming pool.

The Seaside Park Hockey Stadium to be built in the Oi district in Shinagawa Ward with a seating capacity of 15,000 will be shrunk to accommodate 4,000 spectators.

The idea behind scaling down the Olympic facilities is based on the fear that such venues would be underused and that the cost of maintaining and operating them in their original size would be enormous.

That was the case with The Spiral, the track used for the bobsled and luge competitions at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. It cost ¥10.1 billion to build, and the electricity costs for keeping the track frozen runs to ¥200 million a year, while its annual revenue stands at a meager ¥7 million.

Yoshiyuki Mano, a professor in Waseda University’s sports science department, points out that the “operating expenses (for Olympic facilities) are generally twice as high as the construction cost.”

“Olympic facilities should be designed with use after the event in mind, and their size should be decided after considering if the investment will pay off in the long run,” he said.

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