Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Friday retracted her plan to decide whether to change venues for the 2020 Olympics by the end of October, claiming she has her hands tied.
The comment followed Koike’s pledge on Oct. 18 to make her final decision on whether to scrap the most costly projects for the Tokyo Games during a meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
The two met in Tokyo amid concerns over soaring costs to host the games, which are expected to exceed ¥3 trillion.
“After the meeting, I received a letter from President Bach and spoke to him over the phone. He asked me not to make any decisions for now,” she said during her regular news conference at the metropolitan government’s headquarters.
However, when the final decision will be made is unclear.
She said Tokyo’s proposal will be discussed during the first meeting of a four-fold cost-cutting group that both Bach and Koike agreed to establish during the October meeting, at Bach’s suggestion. The group will comprise the IOC, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Japanese government and is expected to gather next month.
Koike said that the IOC requires Tokyo to consult on further steps with other stakeholders but asserted that such conduct will focus on priorities that would lead to the success of hosting the Olympics.
Tokyo’s vision of the games would have an impact on the lasting legacy of the Olympics and Paralympics, Koike said.
The governor said she believes that the metropolitan government is responsible for providing the core model for future Olympic Games, calling the Tokyo Games a “litmus test.”
“I think one of the major topics to discuss is whether (it is worth) building a number of new venues like during the 1964 Olympics,” Koike said. She also said that decisions concerning the venues would require consultations with international sports federations and governing bodies.
In September, Koike established a panel of experts to review the cost of planned venues, calling it “the last chance” to rein in soaring costs.
She said that the panel scrutinizing costs for the games will present their proposal next Tuesday.
The panel earlier recommended scrapping venues such as the Sea Forest Waterway to be constructed on Tokyo Bay for rowing and canoe sprint events, which is estimated to cost around ¥49.1 billion. It suggested refurbishing existing facilities and moving the competition to the Naganuma course in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture.
Koike stressed, however, that she will not hide the decision-making process from the public and said she will work to accelerate preparations and to select the most convenient venues.
“We can’t talk about plan A, B, or C forever,” Koike said. “I don’t want to miss this last chance.”
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