National

Nagano’s Spiral track flirts with closure as mayor mulls cost cuts after Pyeongchang Olympics

Kyodo

A panel at the Nagano Municipal Government on Monday called on the mayor to cut costs by closing a track used for luge, skeleton and bobsled racing at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

The panel submitted a written proposal to Mayor Hisao Kato that suggested the municipal government suspend making ice for the track, known as the Spiral, after the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics are held in South Korea. The Spiral has been Asia’s only permanent track suitable for international competition. Some 6,000 people used the track in fiscal 2014.

The panel also proposed converting the facility into an “Olympic memorial” to promote greater public use and regional development.

Kato told reporters he “wanted to respect” the proposals because funds are tight.

“I believe it is difficult to maintain the facility using taxes,” he said.

People involved in the three sports expressed concern about the proposals, asking how Japan would foster future talent without the track.

The mayor is expected to make a decision on the fate of the facility this year.

The city estimates the cost of maintaining the Spiral for another 10 years after the Pyeongchang Games could reach ¥3.1 billion ($27 million). It says it could keep the cost down to around ¥190 million if it suspends ice-making.