National

Estimated cost for Tokyo 2020 Olympics jumps to ¥2 trillion

by Reiji Yoshida and Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writers

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games could cost up to ¥2 trillion, or as much as 2.5 times the initial estimate in Tokyo’s 2013 presentation to win the right to host the sporting extravaganza, the event’s organizing committee said Tuesday.

Toshiro Muto, the director-general of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic committee, revealed the latest estimate during a four-party meeting of the International Olympic Committee, the Tokyo Organizing Committee, Japan’s central government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government at a hotel in Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront area.

Muto said the ¥2 trillion figure is a ceiling for the total budget and that the organizing committee will try to further cut costs, adding that it will submit a final estimate to the IOC next year.

“We are continuing to scrutinize the budget. The total will be less than ¥2 trillion,” Muto said.

In the 2013 presentation, the total cost was estimated at ¥734 billion. The committee, however, argued that the 2013 figure is not comparable with the latest estimate because it did not include security and transportation budgets that should be shouldered by the central and local governments, along with certain construction projects to be undertaken by the host city and the central government.

According to the metro government, the organizer of the 2012 London Olympic Games likewise estimated total costs at ¥750 billion in its 2005 presentation, but that figure later surged to ¥2.1 trillion when costs for security and transportation were included.

Still, the latest figure for the Tokyo Games could spark another round of criticism from taxpayers.

The operational costs of the Olympic Games are mainly financed with broadcasting fees, sponsorship fees and ticket sales, while construction of various facilities as well as security and transportation are mainly covered by the host city and state government.

In September a study team under Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the total cost could reach as much as ¥3 trillion, but a breakdown of its estimate has not been made clear.

“As far as IOC is concerned, we are extremely pleased with the progress made over the last month toward further cost-savings,” IOC Vice President John Coates told reporters after the meeting.

Coates also said the IOC has not yet agreed to the ¥2 trillion budget ceiling pledged by the Tokyo committee, saying he believed the budget can be cut further to “significantly less than that.”

Meanwhile, Koike asked for more time for feasibility studies on the possible use of Yokohama Arena for volleyball games instead of building a new facility in Tokyo’s Koto Ward. She pledged to finish the studies by Christmas Day next month.

Coates and Tokyo committee President Yoshiro Mori accepted Koike’s proposal, although Mori suggested Yokohama may be reluctant to host volleyball games there and a decision should be made quickly.

During the same meeting, Koike also said the metro government now planned to hold the rowing and canoe sprint event and swimming competition in two separate new facilities to be built in Tokyo, giving up her earlier plan to use two separate existing venues to cut costs.

Koike, who was elected in July, pledged to review Olympic budgets during her campaign. She had warned that Japan is facing a shrinking population and expressed concern over future business plans for new facilities.

Koike had previously suggested that the planned Umi no Mori (Sea Forest) rowing and canoe sprint venue in Tokyo could be scrapped and replaced by the existing Naganuma course in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, hundreds of kilometers from the capital.

She also had suggested that Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center in Tokyo’s Koto Ward could be used to spare construction of a new swimming facility in the same ward.

But in a setback for the reform-advocating governor, the metro government has given up on those ideas for technical and financial reasons.

Koike had argued that use of the Naganuma course would help Miyagi Prefecture recover from the damage it suffered in the 2011 quake-tsunami disaster, which devastated the coastal Tohoku area, including Miyagi.

The local government has campaigned for luring part of the Olympic event to the Naganuma course.