2024 bid cities upbeat on costs as Tokyo struggles

Fri Dec 2, 2016 3:49am EST
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By Chris Gallagher

TOKYO (Reuters) - Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris have expressed confidence in their ability to control costs as they prepare for the final phase of bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympics, unworried by steep overruns at next host Tokyo.

Top officials from the 2024 candidate cities, visiting Tokyo this week, told Reuters they were being vigilant on costs from the onset and were focusing on utilizing existing infrastructure to limit financial risk.

"It's an important thing to get right at this stage," John Harper, chief operating officer of Los Angeles 2024, said of the need to deliver in the bid a reasonable and rigorous budget.

Their preparations come as Tokyo 2020 grapples with spiraling expenses. Japanese organizers this week said overall costs could run as much as 2 trillion yen ($18 billion), almost three times initial estimates.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is fretting such a lofty figure could scare off future bidders, after cities like Rome and Boston dropped out of the 2024 race, and has called for a sharp reduction.

The IOC is keen for cities to embrace its "Agenda 2020" initiative, which calls for, among other things, creating a more compact Games and using a high percentage of existing venues to lower costs.

Harper called Los Angeles "Games ready today" and said it would use only existing facilities, including the UCLA campus for the Olympic village, or a handful of temporary ones.

"I think that is a huge budget risk that gets taken off the table by having that in existence today," he said, referring to the Olympic village plan.   Continued...

The Olympics rings logo is pictured in Lausanne, Switzerland, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse