• Kyodo

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The central government plans to ask the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to further explain a report it prepared suggesting bold changes to preparations for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday.

A panel set up by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike recommended in the Sept. 29 interim report a reconsideration of the way spending is divided between the metropolis, central government and organizing committee, eyeing spiraling hosting costs that it put at more than ¥3 trillion.

The panel raised the option of using existing venues rather than building new ones for swimming, volleyball and rowing and canoe sprint events, prompting concern from organizing committee officials and the central government that existing arrangements agreed on with the International Olympic Committee could be disrupted.

Suga told a news conference that Tamayo Marukawa, minister in charge of the Tokyo Games, has instructed the Cabinet Secretariat to pose questions to the metropolitan government’s reform task force, which received the report from the panel.

“We may hear from the governor directly if necessary,” Marukawa told a news conference Friday, adding the secretariat will try to find out more about the Tokyo government’s stance on cost reduction.

Marukawa said she expects the metropolitan government to come up with its own estimation of the Olympic cost soon. Then, all parties should strive to cut costs, she added.

Koike, who vowed to strive to keep the games “compact” upon her election to the post less than three months ago, is expected to decide on her response to the report before the end of this month.

The metropolitan government said Friday she is planning to inspect boating course facilities in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, on Oct. 15.

Jean-Christophe Rolland, president of the Swiss-based World Rowing, visited Tokyo and met Koike and officials of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, saying Tokyo should stick with the existing plan.

The city, about 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was suggested by the panel as an alternative site for the rowing and canoe sprint events.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking at the first meeting of the government’s 2020 Games promotion task force since the conclusion of the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, hinted Friday at a willingness to cooperate with Tokyo’s potential revision of the budget and venues.

“For the games to be blessed by the public, it is indispensable to keep the decision-making process open, keep costs down and use the limited budget and time efficiently and effectively,” Abe said, apparently acknowledging the report.

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