• Kyodo


International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Thursday that the overall costs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics can be kept down to $15 billion (¥1.7 trillion).

At a meeting last week in Tokyo of a four-party working group reviewing the budget for the games, the 2020 organizing committee said it will try to keep costs under $20 billion. The IOC, however, said that wasn’t good enough without offering a counter-figure at the time.

On Thursday, though, Bach said organizers could save a further $5 billion. The working group consists of the IOC, the organizing committee and the Japanese and Tokyo Metropolitan governments.

“Before this (working group) started, we had reached savings of about $2 billion,” Bach said. “The first figure which has been published for the overall was $30 billion, and now we are already at $20 billion.”

Bach said that even the figure of $15 billion could prove too high. “We think that in this investment of $15 billion can be reduced and we will see where the IOC and the international federations can make their contribution to come to a feasible and sustainable approach.

“Our message is very clear and has recently been expressed in Tokyo. We think that the cost can be further reduced and that this needs to be looked into.”

The working group will confer again via teleconference on Dec. 21, when the location of the volleyball venue is expected to be decided.

The two options that remain for volleyball are to build a new Ariake Arena near Tokyo Bay, or to use the existing Yokohama Arena.

The latter option is opposed by both the international and national federations, and Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said Wednesday staging the volleyball competition there would be “extremely difficult.”

When the working group met last week, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike asked to delay the decision on the volleyball venue until Christmas.

Despite strong opposition from Yokohama as well as the federations, Koike did not appear to be ruling out her preferred option of using an existing facility to save money, saying Thursday her team is still working on a solution for Yokohama Arena.

“We are assessing how we can secure space around the arena and the operations involved, among other things,” Koike said. “We hope to come up with a conclusion as soon as we can.”

The decision on which stadium in Fukushima Prefecture to use for part of the baseball-softball competition will carry over into next year.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation found two of three proposed stadiums unfit to host the games, and will continue to discuss options. Bach, though, said the IOC remains supportive of baseball and softball being played in Fukushima.

“Their stadium has been identified by the organizing committee, and now the other circumstances have to be evaluated,” Bach said. “Our offer and our decision stand because we think it’s an important message to the Japanese people.”

When he visited Japan in October, Bach told Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, that Fukushima and other prefectures recovering from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami could offer venues for handball matches, sources close to the matter said Friday.

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