TOKYO (AP) ” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach expressed willingness Tuesday to work with Tokyo officials to try to reduce spiraling cost estimates for the 2020 Summer Games.
Bach arrived in Japan amid growing tension between Olympic organizers and recently elected Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and her push to cuts costs. He declined to discuss specific proposals, saying he only knew about them from media reports.
“The Tokyo metropolitan government will finalize its internal study, then we’ll discuss it with the other stakeholders … and then I am confident that you will see a significant reduction in the cost compared to what we have seen so far from the press,” Bach told reporters after a 40-minute televised meeting with Koike.
After her election at the end of July, Koike convened a panel of independent experts to review Olympic venues and costs.
Its most drastic proposal has been to suggest moving the rowing and canoeing venue to northern Japan, after the estimated cost for the planned site rose to seven times more than the initial estimate.
The local organizing committee in Tokyo has objected to the possible change, arguing the competition should remain at the planned Sea Forest Waterway.
It said the existing facility that Koike proposes using in Miyagi prefecture lacks infrastructure, accommodation for spectators and will be inconvenient for athletes.
Tokyo organizers also said the final construction cost for the Sea Forest Waterway will likely be lower than estimated, while additional costs for transportation, security and infrastructure to move the events to Miyagi would add up.
Already, the venues for basketball, taekwondo and cycling have been moved outside of Tokyo to reduce costs by using existing facilities. Cycling was moved to Izu, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of the capital.
Tokyo won the right to host the games in 2013 by promising a compact bid with 28 of the 31 competition venues within a five-mile (eight-kilometer) radius of the Olympic Village. Originally, only shooting, modern pentathlon and one soccer venue were to be outside the radius.