The heads of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee on Thursday cast doubt on a proposal by the metropolitan government to scrap three planned new venues while labeling the move “embarrassing.”
Confirming reports from a day earlier, a metropolitan government task force charged with reviewing costs for the games said at a meeting that it was considering using existing sites instead of building new facilities for rowing and canoe sprint, swimming and volleyball.
It comes amid fresh estimates that the cost of hosting the 2020 Games has ballooned to ¥3 trillion.
If adopted, the proposal could see the relocation of boat races from the planned man-made Sea Forest island in Tokyo Bay to Miyagi Prefectural Naganuma Boat Park, which has an existing race course.
Swimming competitions, meanwhile, would be held at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, which also would undergo refurbishment, while an existing facility would be renovated to host volleyball, rather than building the new Ariake Arena.
Shinichi Ueyama, the task force’s special adviser and a professor at Tokyo’s Keio University, said plans for the new facilities failed to incorporate a realistic vision for future reuse and sustainable running costs.
However, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who heads the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee, said earlier in the day that it “might be extremely hard to overturn plans that have already been approved by the International Olympic Committee.”
“The decisions have been taken with adequate reasoning behind them,” he said.
Any changes would need the approval of the IOC and the governing bodies of the sports involved.
Hiroshi Sato, vice director general of the organizing committee, said after a meeting of the executive board: “We have come to our arrangements as a result of long negotiations with the IOC. This report has come out very suddenly and we were surprised and embarrassed to hear such comments, and some IOC members said so, too.”
“I’m sure that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as well as the governor of Tokyo are fully aware of the complex procedures that have led us to this point,” he said.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda also said that scrapping the existing plans would hinder previous arrangements with organizations representing each sport.
At the time of the Olympics bid, the total cost of hosting was estimated at ¥734 billion. But as a result of adding new disciplines, extra safety arrangements and construction costs, the estimates have spiked significantly.
Although the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, tasked with supervising the planning and development of the games, revised some of the construction plans last year, the estimates for new facilities currently stand at ¥224.1 billion. At the time of the Olympics bid, they were ¥153.8 billion.
The project in Tokyo Bay is believed to be among the most costly, running as high as ¥49.1 billion by some estimates, up from ¥6.9 billion initially. By contrast, refurbishing the Miyagi site would cost ¥35.1 billion.
The panel also found it highly likely that the new Ariake Arena would not host many sporting events following the 2020 Games.
“I believe no one has considered whether the capacities and designs of the proposed facilities are appropriate,” Ueyama said.
Under current regulations, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is to cover any deficit of the Olympics organizing committee if needed. The money invested by the metro government, however, accounts for 97.5 percent of the total budget.
Ueyama also stressed that the metro government should pay for temporary venues in Tokyo, while those outside it should be covered by the central government and local municipalities. Ueyama said the panel would further revise plans for temporary facilities currently projected at ¥280 billion.
“There are many issues that need to be resolved … but I hope we will be able to find the best solutions,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at the meeting, adding that she is in favor of cost reduction resulting in justifiable expenditures.
“All aspects will have to be taken into account,” for decisions on the use of venues beyond the 2020 Olympics, Koike said.
The original plan was based on a concept wherein 85 percent of facilities would be within a distance of 8 kilometers from the main stadium to ease the commute for athletes, a concept that has long since been abandoned.
The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee plans to submit its budget plan to the International Olympic Committee by year’s end.
The following is the gist of a cost review submitted Thursday to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike over the 2020 Olympics.
- Cost of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics may soar to over ¥3 trillion.
- Plans to build venues in Tokyo for swimming, volleyball and rowing/canoe sprint should be reconsidered.
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center could host swimming; Pacifico Yokohama suited to volleyball.
- The metropolitan government should shoulder the expenses for temporary sites in Tokyo, and the central government and municipalities should share the expenses elsewhere.
- Short of relocating those events to alternative sites, attempts should be made to reduce costs by building temporary facilities, downsizing and reducing seating capacity.
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