National

Tokyo Olympic chiefs weigh private-sector venue funding

by Andrew McKirdy

Staff Writer

Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers are entertaining the idea that venues built for the games could be financed and run by private-sector companies.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, central government and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee have vowed to cut costs for the games, having announced a budget ceiling of ¥2 trillion on Tuesday that the International Olympic Committee warned still has scope for substantial savings.

Organizers are currently in the process of reviewing proposed venues, and agreed to keep swimming and rowing in Tokyo on Tuesday but postponed a decision on the fate of a planned volleyball arena in the city’s Odaiba district until later this month.

Tokyo 2020 organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto on Wednesday left open the possibility that money from the private sector could be used to fund and maintain Olympic venues, including the ¥164.5 billion new National Stadium.

“The organizing committee doesn’t construct the facilities so we are not in a position to respond,” said Muto. “But I think that capital from the private sector, or management of facilities commissioned to private entities, are topics (to be discussed). Even regarding the National Stadium, and especially for Ariake Arena.

“Of course there is no conclusion about Ariake Arena, but further cost-reduction efforts must be made and maybe using private money could be reviewed. That’s as far as I can respond,” he added.

Muto also reaffirmed the organizing committee’s commitment to cutting costs after IOC Vice President John Coates reacted to Tuesday’s ¥2 trillion budget announcement by saying that “the IOC has not agreed to that amount of money.”

“By declaring that it will be below ¥2 trillion, that will be the starting point and from there we will continue our efforts to reduce the budget,” said Muto. “On the part of the IOC, Mr. Coates mentioned that he considers ¥2 trillion a number that can be reduced further, and we agree.

“On the part of the organizing committee, we will rigorously make sure there is no waste. All parties will make similar efforts to reduce the budget. Around this time next year we will submit a second budget. The result of our efforts should be reflected in that budget.”

The organizers’ decision on Tuesday to keep rowing and sprint canoe events in Tokyo and build a new aquatics center in the city, but with fewer seats, leaves the volleyball arena as the only venue yet to be finalized. IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi insists the body is “very comfortable” with the timetable for a decision.

“When it comes to the situation here in Tokyo, we are very glad that two venues were confirmed yesterday,” Dubi said. “That is excellent, and it’s a very realistic deadline that has been established for the volleyball venue with an anticipated decision in December.”

“With this, we will have all milestones respected because we have one certitude here in Tokyo,” he added. “That is, when you establish milestones, you deliver right on the bang. So I feel very comfortable with the situation the way it stands.”

Muto and Dubi spoke at the end of the three-day IOC Debriefing Olympic Games Rio 2016, where organizers of this summer’s Rio Games shared what they had learned with the 2020 hosts.

“It is with great emotion that we say farewell after the Rio 2016 Games,” said Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman.

“My Olympic career started here in 1964 as an Olympian in volleyball and finishes back here today with the debriefing of Rio 2016 to Tokyo 2020.”

“We won the right to host the games in one political and economic situation in our country, and later on we had a lot of challenges,” he added. “Independent of these challenges was the unity of the organizing committee. We never gave up. I think this is a strong position to work together, especially with the IOC. As a great partner for us, always it was the IOC.”