International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach vowed Thursday to produce “a very significant reduction in costs” for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which he predicts will bring “a transformational moment for all of Japan.”
Bach and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike agreed Tuesday to form a four-party working group — comprising the IOC, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Japanese government — to tackle the 2020 Games’ soaring price tag, which a review panel set up by Koike last month estimated could top ¥3 trillion.
Bach earlier this week disputed that figure, but promised an audience at the four-day World Forum on Sport and Culture in Tokyo on Thursday that the group will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to save money.
“It is very clear that nobody, nobody, has an interest in soaring costs,” Bach said. “For its part, the IOC has the strongest interest to show that the Olympic Games can be organized in a feasible and sustainable way. This is why we will bring all our experience, expertise and determination to this working group.
“I am sure that by working together, we will produce a result that will show a very, very significant reduction of the costs compared to the numbers that are being discussed in the media.”
Bach spoke for 30 minutes at the conference, which was organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and also featured keynote addresses by International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont and World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.
“It is a great honor to address this forum today in what it is an important milestone on the journey toward the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” said Bach. “It only seems like yesterday that the spectacular handover ceremony in Rio de Janeiro gave us all a preview of the creative energy that we can expect in 2020.
“With the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, there will be many more opportunities to showcase Japan’s unique culture to the world. The World Forum on Sport and Culture is, therefore, a wonderful location to discuss this important contribution, and to show how the Olympic Games 2020 can be a transformational moment for all of Japan.”
Bach met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday and floated the idea of holding some baseball and softball games — which will return to the Olympic program in 2020 after a 12-year absence — in areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
“Following the positive response from the prime minister, the IOC will further explore this implementation in close coordination with the organizing committee and all the other stakeholders,” Bach said Thursday.
“With this, an important message of solidarity with the local population, which is suffering so much, can be sent. This way, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a great opportunity to showcase the progress Japan has made rebuilding and regenerating.”
Craven, the IPC president, followed Bach and expressed a wish that the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics will continue the progress that the Paralympic movement has made since it was founded in 1948.
He said the forum was am innovative place that “brings to life completely new hypotheses, values, industries and societies in harmony.”
“I’d like to talk about the developing philosophy of how the Paralympic Games can help improve society, move society forward and ensure that society is inclusive for everyone,” he said.
World Rugby Chairman Beaumont addressed the audience three years before Japan hosts Asia’s first-ever Rugby World Cup in 2019.
“Over the next four years, Japan will sit at the very center of the sporting world, with the Rugby World Cup taking place in 2019 and beyond that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Beaumont, a former England and British Lions captain.
“These events represent a profound opportunity to harness the incredible power of sport to bring communities together, celebrate friendship, culture, and inspire the next generation of players and fans.”
World Rugby estimates that the 2019 Rugby World Cup will bring 400,000 “high-spending” visitors to Japan for the six-week tournament from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2, injecting $2.5 billion into the economy.
The governing body is hoping to build on Japan’s strong performances at the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympic rugby sevens tournament. It claims to have attracted 11 million new Japanese fans as a result of those successes.
“It presents a unique opportunity to reach and convert new players and fans beyond rugby’s traditional communities,” said Beaumont. “Visiting the ‘Land of the Rising Scrum,’ I am already seeing the knock-on effect of Japan’s 2015 success.”
World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Schwab believes Japan’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics will come at a pivotal time for the global economy.
“We are at the dawn of the fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Schwab. “By 2020, this revolution will have further transformed not only business models and economies, but also our societies at large. The Summer Olympics 2020 will be the first games in the age of the fourth Industrial Revolution.”
He added, “Sport and culture leaders have become the heroes of our time. They are celebrities and celebrated. But they have an enormous responsibility — to act as role models celebrating those virtues which we want to see developed in every citizen and particularly in the young generation.”
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