Rising costs force review of Tokyo 2020 venue plans

Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:00am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Rising labor and construction costs are forcing a review of Tokyo's venue plans for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and could lead to a scaling back of facilities, Japanese officials said on Wednesday.

The review will include all 10 venues that Tokyo plans to build for the sporting extravaganza the city won the right to host last September on the strength of its financial clout and pledges to keep most competition sites close together.

"There is no choice but to review the plans within the scope of our commitments to the International Olympic Committee (IOC)," Hakubun Shimomura, education and sports minister, told reporters on Wednesday.

Construction and labor costs have been pushed higher around Japan by the country's expanding economy and rebuilding efforts after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which devastated a wide swathe of the northeastern coastline.

Questions have also been raised about the cost of maintaining the venues after the Olympics and how useful they will be to Tokyo citizens, both points that Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe raised in proposing the review on Tuesday.

The original Olympics proposal, which budgeted some 153.8 billion yen ($1.5 billion) for venues, did not take into account the impact of the Japanese consumption tax hike that took place in April and did not predict the sharp rise in construction costs, a Tokyo government official said.

"We still don't know what venues will be involved or what the scale of the revisions might be," he added.

"As to whether the venues will be smaller or not, the rising costs are a worry, so the review will have to be centered on keeping the budget in check."   Continued...

A man works next to host city logos of Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee at an event celebrating Tokyo being chosen to host the 2020 Olympic Games, at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino