IOC executive concerned over Olympic venue changes; organizers dispute Tokyo’s cost estimates

Kyodo

John Coates, who heads the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission, took part in an urgent teleconference Friday regarding a Tokyo Metropolitan Government proposal to switch three venues for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, an informed source said.

With the games’ costs potentially soaring above ¥3 trillion ($30 billion), a review panel set up by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike recommended Thursday that the metropolitan government reconsider the construction of three venues: swimming, volleyball, and rowing and canoe sprinting.

Coates conferred for an hour with 2020 Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto and Tokyo Vice Gov. Takashi Yamamoto, during which he expressed grave concerns over the plan to abandon agreed-upon venues.

One concern with moving the venue for rowing and canoeing to Miyagi Prefecture is that it would lessen the degree to which athletes from different nations and religions can interact in the Olympic Village.

The Japan Rowing Association said it will demand the metropolitan government stick to the original plan for a new Tokyo venue for rowing and canoe sprinting and not shift it to the Naganuma rowing course in Miyagi, more than 400 km (250 miles) away.

The JRA said the planned venue in Tokyo was given the go-ahead by the International Rowing Federation in 2014 after the world governing body made visits to eight venues inside Japan.

The JRA is demanding a permanent facility within the Tokyo metropolitan area to enhance the competitiveness of its sports.

The 2020 organizing committee countered Tokyo’s cost estimates.

It said the original calculation of ¥734 billion ($7.2 billion) had been reached by the metropolitan government together with the bidding committee. It noted that the ¥734 billion did not include the costs of designing or removing facilities, and therefore only accounted for 60 percent of the total costs. It also did not include the new costs for sports that were added last month, such as baseball and softball.

The organizers also said it was the metropolitan government that had settled on building a new Tokyo venue for rowing and canoe sprinting, and said the maintenance cost of ¥49.1 billion ($480 million) included expenses for use of the site by Tokyo residents after the games, with the actual cost for 2020 coming to only ¥9.8 billion ($97 million).