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  • Call for New Venue Cuts Raises Alarms in Tokyo


    (ATR) Cost-cutting moves proposed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government may signal a power struggle over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
    Tokyo 2020 coordination committee meeting on Sep. 29 (ATR)

    A report from the TMG Olympics reform panel issued Thursday calls for more venue spending cuts with estimates that the cost of Tokyo 2020 Olympics could reach $30 billion.

    The panel, commissioned by Governor Yuriko Koike was led by Shinichi Ueyama, a Keio University public policy professor.

    "Naturally, anyone who hears these numbers is alarmed," Ueyama said after releasing the findings.

    The panel found that three of the seven permanent venues being built for the Tokyo 2020 Games should be significantly altered to prevent rising costs. The three venues include Ariake Arena for volleyball, the Sea Forest Waterway for rowing and canoe sprint and the proposed Olympic Aquatics Center.

    The panel concluded that rowing should be moved to an existing venue 400km (249 miles) from Tokyo, the most drastic recommendation.

    The report recommends that the aquatics and volleyball events be held in upgraded existing arenas.

    So far, Tokyo 2020 moved the Olympic cycling venue to Izu, 130km (81 miles) west of Tokyo and the basketball venue to Saitama, 30km (19 miles) north of Tokyo. The original Tokyo 2020 bid plan stated that most venues would be concentrated within 5 miles of the Olympic Village.

    The panel showed that a lack of budget ceiling, little oversight and overestimation of venue capacity were driving up costs. It also said that most legacy goals for new venues were too ambitious given the current makeup of Japanese society.

    Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (ATR)
    Since taking office in late July, Koike has been vocal about working to curb costs for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

    “I will judge how we can cut cost and leave legacy comprehensive way,” Koike said to reporters after the panel’s findings. “[We cannot] force a negative legacy to citizens.”

    Koike continues to gather support of citizens for cost cutting measures and her crusade against the opacity of Japanese sport politics. Sources tell Around the Rings her crusade to cut costs may alienate Tokyo 2020 and Japanese sport leadership who worry that changes will create new hurdles for the organizers to overcome.

    Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori and Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa (ATR)
    Speaking to ATR after a meeting of the Games coordination panel, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori that it will be a challenge to communicate the changes suggested by the TMG to the IOC.

    “Tokyo 2020 has grappled with this problem [of venue selection] for two years,” Mori said. “It is very hard thing to reject a plan that was approved by the IOC board of directors. These venues were decided for different reasons. I pointed out to Koike changing venues plan need readjustments with International Federations and the IOC.”

    The Games coordination panel includes Mori, Koike and Tokyo 2020 CEO chief executive Toshiro Muto and Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa.

    ATR understands that both Mori and Marukawa oppose the moves from Koike, which could cause a power struggle between the three leaders over the direction of the Games.

    Heads of the Japanese federations for rowing, swimming, and volleyball told ATR they were “confused” with the decisions from the TMG. All three federations say that the bid plan had already been agreed upon before presenting to the IOC, and were agreed upon by all partners during the first round of revisions.

    Any changes proposed would need to go through the approval process again from Tokyo, the IOC, IFs, and national federations. If any venues are moved outside of Tokyo approval will then be required from the local prefectural government.

    Written by Hironori Hashimoto in Tokyo and Aaron Bauer in Rio de Janeiro

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