IOC: Tokyo’s huge cost could give wrong message


TOKYO (AP) — A top IOC official renewed his demand Thursday that Japanese organizers further reduce their $18 billion budget ceiling for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying the figure could scare off cities considering bids for future games.

IOC vice president John Coates, who heads the coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, was referring to the announcement by local organizers this week of a 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) cap on the overall cost.

Coates told the coordination meeting in Tokyo on Thursday that the International Olympic Committee has not accepted the figure. He said all cities seeking to host future games are watching Tokyo and officials should avoid making a “wrong impression” about what it costs to host the Olympics, according to Kyodo News.

Coates said he expected “significant further savings” to be made.

Japanese organizers have yet to compile a total cost estimate, though their first official budget is expected by the end of the year.

Tokyo’s Olympic costs have soared amid Japan’s reconstruction from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the year Tokyo launched its bid for the games. The city secured the games in 2013.

A Tokyo government panel has also accused local organizers of allowing big public works spending for the Olympics without a long-term vision for legacy use. The panel has said the cost of the Olympics could exceed $30 billion — four times the initial estimate — unless drastic cuts are made.

The IOC also has come under pressure to reduce costs in order to lure cities to bid for future games. The $51 billion price tag associated with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi led numerous cities to drop out of bidding for the 2022 and 2024 Olympics. The IOC is now encouraging cities to make maximum use of existing and temporary facilities.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has spearheaded the cost-cutting effort, proposing a review of the three costly venues.

Koike agreed Tuesday to keep the rowing, canoe sprint and swimming venues at their planned sites in Tokyo, rather than moving them to existing venues outside the capital, while securing commitments for substantial cost reductions.

A decision on a possible switch of the volleyball venue was delayed until late December.

Yoshiro Mori, head of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee, said he wanted to see volleyball held in Tokyo’s Ariake Arena as planned, instead of Yokohama — considered as an alternate option — so the venue can serve as a long-term legacy.

___

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mari-yamaguchi

comments powered by Disqus