• Kyodo


As the International Olympic Committee kicked off a three-day debriefing session Monday on the Rio Games, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said she feels pressured to ensure the Tokyo Olympics succeeds in 2020.

“With the world watching, I accepted the two flags of the Olympics and Paralympics from the (Rio) mayor and felt then that it is now Tokyo’s turn,” Koike said. “The flag itself was not heavy, but the burden of responsibility which comes along with it was.”

“We need to capitalize on the experience from the Rio Games as we prepare for 2020.”

Meeting at a hotel in Tokyo’ Minato Ward, the IOC, together with the International Paralympic Committee and the Rio organizing committee, is holding a series of workshops to transfer their knowledge to the host cities of the next three Olympics — Pyeongchang (2018), Tokyo (2020) and Beijing (2022).

The bidders for the 2024 Summer Games — Los Angeles, Budapest and Paris — are also attending.

IOC President Thomas Bach, who did not attend, said in a video message that with Rio now over, Tokyo is the IOC’s priority.

“It is important for Rio 2016 to share the experience with future host cities,” Bach said. “So it is great that representatives from Pyeongchang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing are all joining the discussions.”

“Now, all our attention turns to Tokyo, to build on Rio’s success and write the next chapter of the Olympic Games. I’m confident that the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a transformative moment for all of Japan.”

One of the main issues to be discussed at the debriefing, which will be followed by a meeting of the 2020 coordination commission on Thursday and Friday, will be the matter of Tokyo’s budget, which the organizing committee is trying to keep to around ¥2 trillion. The metropolitan government originally estimated the total cost could reach ¥3 trillion.

Some sense of direction is expected to be given Tuesday, when top officials from a four-party working group including the central and metropolitan governments, the IOC and the 2020 organizers are scheduled to meet.

A decision on the venues for swimming, volleyball and rowing/canoe sprint is set to be announced in conjunction with the overall budget, which has caused a national uproar. Koike’s aggressive reform panel has made trimming the fat budgets for the Olympics and the Tsukiji fish market replacement project a priority since taking office earlier this year.

Tokyo is also hoping to get a few cost-cutting tips from Rio during the debriefing.

“In the organization in Brazil, a lot of attention was given to cutting costs,” said Toshiro Muto, CEO of the 2020 organizing committee.

“The use of overlay at the venues was noticeable, and using not just taxpayers’ money but private funding was also noticeable. It was an important suggestion made to us.”

The Rio organizers urged Tokyo to work fast and play nice.

“The clock is ticking,” said Nawal El Moutawakel, who chaired the coordination commission for Rio. “There is no time to lose at any moment so keep on the pressure and work hand in hand. The Tokyo team really needs to be united and speak one language and have one goal.”

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