Cost reductions, venue plans dominate Tokyo 2020 meetings
TOKYO (AP) Calling Tokyo's proposed $20 billion budget unacceptable, IOC vice president John Coates urged Japanese organizers on Friday to find ways to make the 2020 Olympics more affordable.
Coates, speaking at the end of a coordination commission review of Tokyo's preparations, said the International Olympic Committee would not accept the budget put forward by Tokyo organizers. He said the games could be delivered for less and the current figure could scare off cities considering bids for future Olympics.
''The IOC is not in a position to accept a budget of $20 billion,'' Coates said at a news conference. ''The IOC just isn't going to sign off on a budget which we think exceeds the costs that the games could be staged for. That would be giving the wrong impression and it would not help us in terms of other candidate cities.''
Construction costs have soared in part due to shortages in labor and materials as Japan continues to recover from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Japanese organizers have yet to compile a total cost estimate for the games, though their first official budget is expected to be released by the end of the year.
A Tokyo government panel has 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.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has spearheaded the cost-cutting effort, proposing a review of three costly new venues. Her efforts have led to some tense exchanges with Yoshiro Mori, president of the 2020 organizing committee.
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.
Coates brushed aside suggestions that the showdown over cost-cutting would have a negative impact on Tokyo's preparations.
''I'm confident that governor Koike and president Mori and the two organizations that they lead can work together,'' Coates said. ''We sat around a table the other day and we all agreed on two venues and we all agreed that we would postpone a final decision until more investigation was made on a third venue.''
Five new sports - baseball-softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing - were approved for inclusion in the Tokyo Games in August.
Subject to the final approval of the IOC, the location of the venues for the five new sports are: Yokohama Stadium for baseball-softball; Nippon Budokan for karate, new structures on Tokyo Bay for sports climbing and skateboarding, and neighboring Chiba prefecture for surfing.