Tokyo organizers promise cost-cutting for 2020 Olympics
TOKYO (AP) Hoping to avoid last-minute financial pressures, Japanese officials said Wednesday they are determined to keep total costs of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games below 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) after a three-day debriefing from organizers of the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Rio was forced to make cuts up to the opening of this year's games because the Brazilian economy went into severe recession after the Olympics were awarded in 2009.
Tokyo's estimated costs have ballooned in the face of construction costs that have soared since the city launched its bid for the Olympics in 2011 and secured the games in 2013.
''We're committed to reducing costs,'' Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said after the debriefing wrapped up. ''The city government, the national government and the organizing committee must all work together.''
A Tokyo government panel has said the cost of the Olympics could exceed $30 billion - four times the initial estimate - unless drastic cuts are made.
Muto proposed putting a 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) cap on total Olympic costs but IOC vice president John Coates said the ceiling was too high.
''The figure of 2 trillion is a starting point,'' Muto said. ''From there we will move to reduce it further. Mr. Coates has said it should be lower and we agree with that.''
More than 500 officials took part in the debriefing sessions here that are aimed at drawing lessons from the Rio Games for Tokyo and other future organizers.
Representatives of the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo organizers and Japan's central and city governments have been meeting in Tokyo to discuss ways of reducing costs.
Tokyo Olympic organizers agreed Tuesday to keep the rowing, canoe sprint and swimming venues at their planned sites in Tokyo, rather than moving them to exiting venues outside the capital. A decision on a possible switch of the volleyball venue was postponed until late December.
Coates, who heads the IOC's coordination commission for the Tokyo Games, emphasized the need to resolve issues quickly.
''The sooner you get out there and arrive at entering into your various procurement contracts to commence construction then the cheaper it's going to be,'' he said.
Tokyo initially won the bid on a promise to stage a compact games but has moved several events to neighboring prefectures since beating out Istanbul and Madrid in the IOC voting.
Basketball will be staged in Saitama, a one-hour train ride north of Tokyo, while cycling was transferred to Izu, over two hours away from the capital.
In addition to the IOC executives and representatives from Rio and Tokyo, the debriefing was attended by organizers of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, as well as delegations from the three bid cities for the 2024 Olympics - Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles.