• Kyodo


A draft of the overall budget for the 2020 Olympics looks like it will finally be made in December, according to the chief auditor of the metropolitan government team reviewing costs for the Tokyo Games on Wednesday.

Shinichi Ueyama, the Keio University professor heading an investigative panel selected by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, said he is optimistic that the budget for the Games — which has never been set and could soar past ¥3 trillion, according to Koike’s team — will be capped next month.

The International Olympic Committee’s coordination commission for the games will meet in Tokyo on Dec. 1 and 2, followed by a meeting of its executive board in Lausanne, Switzerland, from the Dec. 6 to 8.

Ueyama is part of the four-party cost-cutting working group — including the IOC, the 2020 organizing committee and the national and metropolitan governments — that is holding a three-day meeting through Thursday.

On Wednesday, the venues for the swimming, volleyball and the rowing and canoe sprint were scrutinized.

“Everyone who needed to make a presentation has made his presentation,” Ueyama said. “All the explanations and questions were put forth.”

Two-time Olympic swimming champion and IOC member Kirsty Coventry, representing the athletes at the meetings, echoed Ueyama’s sentiments. Asked if any decisions will be taken on the final day, Coventry said, “(It’s been) definitely very productive and just have to see how tomorrow goes. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The IOC is desperate to put a cap on the budget, which has steadily increased since Tokyo estimated it at ¥734 billion in its bid book and has been a source of public uproar in Japan, so that costs can be properly managed once and for all.

The IOC appears to be fed up with the bickering going back and forth between the organizing committee and the Koike administration, and it would make sense for the IOC to settle it through the decisive meetings in December.

“When the first version of the overall budget comes out in December, costs for things like transport and security will be spelled out in detail, because the math has to be done first,” Ueyama said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

“The IOC will then relay their experience from the past Olympic Games and after that, there will be specific discussions. I’m not too pessimistic about it.”

The proposed venue for the rowing and canoe events, Sea Forest Waterway, has been the biggest headache of the three, with Koike’s team pushing to move it outside of Tokyo to Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, because of its hefty price tag.

The organizing committee has blasted those plans, saying it will end up costing more to relocate it than to stick to the original blueprint of keeping it on the fringes of Tokyo Bay.

Ueyama, however, begged to differ, saying the organizers have not done their homework.

“The cost for Sea Forest was initially set at ¥49.1 billion, which is how the argument started to begin with,” Ueyama said. “Miyagi Prefecture said they can do it for ¥20 billion, which would make it the far cheaper option. Our team reviewed (the Miyagi venue), and feel it would cost ¥30 billion.

“But for the organizing committee to say how much Miyagi — which is something we only started discussing this summer — will cost or that it will be more expensive than keeping it in Tokyo when they haven’t even properly studied it is nothing short of unfair, in my opinion.”

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