The Japan Volleyball Association (JVA), along with former Olympians, submitted a written petition Tuesday to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike calling on the government to stick to the original plan of building the Ariake Arena volleyball venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Kenji Kimura, the JVA president, said that while he understood the need to rein in costs for the games, chopping the budget should not be the only option.
“We are certainly aware of the ¥40.4 billion cost (to build the arena),” Kimura said at a news conference prior to meeting Koike where he handed over the petition. “But (the point) should be about how much value you see in it. You should not judge things based on costs alone, which is the short-term view.
“Of course, taxpayers funds will be spent, so we would like to cooperate (with the organizers) to cut costs,” Kimura said.
Earlier this month, a panel for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government issued a report recommending venue changes for some sporting events — including volleyball, swimming, rowing and canoeing — as part of potential cost-cutting measures.
The report suggested two options for volleyball. One option was to go with the original plan to construct the Ariake Arena. The second was to use the existing Yokohama Arena.
Yuichi Nakagaichi, a former Olympian and the new head coach of the men’s national team, said at the news conference at Tokyo’s Kishi Memorial Hall that while it will inevitably take funding to build the new arena, the prime location — accessible from both Haneda and Narita international airports — means it would have the potential to become the nation’s top new cultural and sports center.
“By mobilizing (Japanese) technology, I would like to see the Ariake Arena become globally renowned,” said Naka-gaichi, who competed in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Yuko Arakida, who was part of the gold medal-winning women’s national team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, said venues like Yoyogi National Gymnasium and Nippon Budokan, which were built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, are still in operation today after half a century, and remain legacies of the games.
“(Yoyogi and the Budokan) are still in use and could potentially be used for the next 50 years,” said Arakida, who previously served as sports director for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee. “Ariake is a great location. We are going to use (the arena) for the next 100 years. So we’d hope that everyone can understand that.”
Yoko Tamura, 71, who helped the women’s national volleyball team earn gold at the Tokyo Games 52 years ago, recalled how the Komazawa gymnasium became a “revered place” for those who played there after the Olympics. She said she expects that the new 15,000-seat venue will in turn hold a similar place in the hearts of future young athletes.
“I’m hoping from the bottom of my heart Ariake Arena will become synonymous with volleyball,” said Tamura.