International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Wednesday rejected calls from Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike to expand a new four-party working group set up to review rising costs for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Bach also warned that the group, comprising the IOC, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Japanese government, which was established at his suggestion during a meeting with Koike on Tuesday, must not be hijacked for political gain.
“This is a working group, it is not a political group,” Bach told reporters after meeting with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. “It is a group, it is a team, that will cooperate very closely.”
Bach and Koike agreed Tuesday to form the group to review the games’ spiraling price tag, which a panel set up by Koike last month claimed could reach as high as ¥3 trillion. The IOC disputes the figures.
The group will hold its first meeting after Koike decides by the end of this month whether to accept or reject the panel’s cost-cutting recommendations. These include scrapping the proposed Umi no Mori (Sea Forest) venue for rowing and sprint canoe events in Tokyo and holding them hundreds of kilometers away in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture.
But Bach on Wednesday shot down Koike’s subsequent suggestion that the group could be expanded to six parties to include national and international sporting federations.
“We have the agreement about this four-partite working group, and this was very well perceived by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the governor,” said Bach. “We will follow this agreement we had yesterday, and this is happening in agreement with the organizing committee.”
Reports claimed on Tuesday that the IOC is considering holding rowing and sprint canoe events in South Korea if the Umi no Mori venue plan falls apart.
Bach sidestepped the issue on Wednesday, cutting short a briefing with reporters after taking just one question.
But Bach did reject suggestions that Koike would seek to take the lead in organizing the working group, stressing that all four parties would work as equals.
“This working group is not about who is taking the lead, who is there doing what,” said Bach. “This working group is a technical working group putting together the figures, putting together the different budgets and then showing how the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be organized in the best sustainable and feasible way possible.”
Bach met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later on Wednesday.
Tokyo 2020 organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori also pledged cooperation.
“As President Bach mentioned, a proposal was made to establish a working group and the governor accepted this proposal,” he said. “And if I remember correctly, the governor also said that she was minded to propose a similar idea herself.
“The most important thing is for this working party to start work and come to an agreement through close cooperation. What is important is to deliver a successful Olympics and Paralympics. There is no reason to doubt that there will be close cooperation toward that.”
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