National / Politics

Koike backs Ariake Arena as 2020 volleyball venue after ¥6.5 billion discount

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced Friday that she will stick with the original plan to build Ariake Arena, the planned volleyball venue for the 2020 Olympics, but at a significantly reduced price.

Ariake Arena was among three projects under review, along with the new aquatics center and the maritime venue for the rowing and canoeing competitions.

Koike said at her regular news conference at City Hall that the metro government managed to curb construction costs for the three venues in question by some ¥40 billion.

“It’s not only about seeking ways to reduce costs,” the governor said, emphasizing that the investments will also be reflected in the facilities’ running costs. “It will create added value for the whole area.”

Ariake Arena will now cost around ¥33.9 billion instead of ¥40.4 billion, while the aquatics center will cost ¥29.8 billion instead of ¥49.1 billion, and the canoeing venue around ¥52 billion, down from ¥68.3 billion, Koike said.

Koike said upgrades in technology will also help rein in costs, adding that she was considering the use of geothermal energy as another means to generate savings.

The decision means the cost-cutting panel’s proposal to use Yokohama Arena for volleyball instead of building Ariake Arena is dead. Koike set up the panel in September, shortly after she was elected Tokyo’s first female governor.

The International Olympic Committee is also urging Koike to trim the total estimated cost of holding the 2020 Games from the maximum of ¥2 trillion.

“I have taken into account various factors along with the IOC’s Agenda 2020, including usage of existing facilities and how much each option would cost,” Koike said, referring to the strategic road map.

She explained that her decision was also based on property rights and legal issues that could surface if the competition was moved outside Tokyo.

Koike initially backed the recommendation to use Yokohama Arena, but the plan was met with protests from the Japan Volleyball Association and the Yokohama Municipal Government.

The governor plans to open the arena’s concession spaces to private businesses as an optimal way to raise funds.

Koike said she was hoping that, following the 2020 Games, Ariake Arena could be used for other sports and events and would remain a legacy venue resembling London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which was built for the 2012 Games.

Koike will present the budget proposal at next week’s meeting of a four-party working group tasked with reducing the 2020 Games costs.

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