IOC urges 'sustainable' Tokyo Games, lauds venue review

Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:06am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates has urged Tokyo to ensure plans for the 2020 Summer Games avoid wasteful construction and welcomed talk of reviewing or possibly scaling back venues.

Japanese officials, led by Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe, said earlier this month that rising labor and construction costs were forcing the Japanese capital to rethink its plans for 10 venues it intended to build for the games.

Tokyo won the right to host the games last year, beating out Madrid and Istanbul with its financial strength and pledges to hold a "compact" Olympics, but some of the proposed changes include using existing venues outside central Tokyo instead of building new ones downtown.

"We want to see venues that are sustainable, and sustainable legacies," Coates told a news conference on Friday at the end of a three-day visit by the IOC's Coordination Commission, the first since Tokyo won hosting rights last September.

"We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more temporary grandstands... It may be that there are new venues and existing venues at the moment that are dedicated for just one sport, where with good programming you could do two."

Tokyo's bid emphasized a war chest of some $4.5 billion and pledged to keep most competition sites within 8 km of the Olympic Village in downtown Tokyo.

But skyrocketing construction and labor costs, partly as a result of the 2011 disaster that devastated a wide swathe of Japan's northeastern coast and partly due to a hike in consumption tax, prompted officials to call for the review.

In one case, the kayak/canoe sprint venue, new estimates came in 15 times higher than original plans, which had not taken into account costs for building a dam and moving part of a waste disposal facility currently on the site, Japanese media said.   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