IOC concerned about Tokyo 2020 costs, will work to help pare

Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:39am EDT
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By Elaine Lies and Chris Gallagher

TOKYO (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday that it felt costs for the 2020 Tokyo Games looked "very high" and would work with organizers to cut them, but that athletes must come first when considering how to rein in spending.

The comments came at a meeting between Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and IOC President Thomas Bach, who proposed forming a working group comprising Tokyo, the central government, 2020 organizers and the IOC to find ways to avoid wasteful spending.

Koike, who took office in August, ordered a review of Olympic expenses that last month recommended changing three venues in an effort to rein in costs projected to hit 3 trillion yen ($29 billion) -- some four times the initial estimates made when Tokyo won the right to host the Games.

"That's certainly a figure that seems very large to us," IOC Vice President John Coates told reporters after the meeting, adding that he was confident those figures could be reduced.

One of the proposed venue changes would mean moving rowing and canoe/kayak sprint events some 400 km (250 miles) north of Tokyo to use existing facilities rather than building new ones in the capital.

The IOC, the 2020 Organising Committee and international rowing federation favor the original plan to keep the venue in Tokyo, while Koike last week told Reuters this was the last chance to take steps to rein in soaring costs.

Bach did not comment directly on the proposed venue changes but emphasized that the experience of the athletes should be the priority in planning for the Games.

"The athletes are the heart and soul of the Olympic Games and we have to respect them," Bach said.   Continued...

IOC President Thomas Bach (R) meets Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, October 18, 2016.   REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon