July 24, 2018 / 7:00 AM / 2 months ago

Olympics - Tokyo Games venues hit by construction delays: organizers

TOKYO (Reuters) - Construction delays at two key Olympic venues could force Tokyo Games organizers into a reshuffle of test event schedules, the organizing committee said.

FILE PHOTO: Part of the public seating area and a huge screen are seen at the construction site of the New National Stadium, the main stadium of Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, during a media opportunity in Tokyo, Japan July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The Olympics Aquatics Center, which will host swimming and diving events as well as the Sea Forest Waterway, venue for the rowing and canoeing events in 2020, were two months behind schedule, according to organizers.

Both venues will be completed well before the Games’ opening ceremony on July 24, 2020, but organizers may have to shift test events to allow for the delays.

“We have been informed that the two venues have a delay compared to the original schedule,” said Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya.

“We are working closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) and the respective federations to be able to sort out and possibly modify the test event schedule.

“Other than that, the schedules on the permanent venues are absolutely right on track.”

On Tuesday, Tokyo 2020 organizers released a progress report that said the Aquatics Center would not be finished until Feb. 2020, the latest of any of the new permanent venues.

The Sea Forest Waterway will be pushed back to May, 2019, when it had previously been earmarked for completion by March.

With the first test events planned for mid-2019, organizers are hopeful the majority of venues will be ready to host many of the international federations and athletes that will descend on the Japanese capital in 2020.

“The TMG, the sports federation and Tokyo 2020 are under discussions to make sure the test events to be delivered in time,” added Takaya.

Another challenge facing Tokyo 2020 organizers is responding to questions from some international federations - including sailing and baseball – about Japan’s ability to deliver their events to Olympic standard.

At April’s SportAccord Convention in Bangkok, organizers faced criticism from federations over issues such as competition planning, water pollution and communications.

However, two years out from hosting the Games, organizers are confident they are repairing relationships with federations following changes to their communication structure.

“We observed that some of the international federations have a honest opinion on the current status of the Games’ preparations in April,” admitted Takaya.

“The relationship with the international federations remains very strong.

“After the meeting in April, Tokyo 2020 observed an organizational change in the sports bureau and with a new structure in place, we are confident that we will be able to keep even better relationships with the federations.”

Organizers have recently been buoyed by the International Olympic Committee’s approval of both the Olympics’ session schedule and ticket prices for locals.

“We were able to see the IOC’s full satisfaction with the Games’ preparation,” added Takaya.

“We are absolutely right on track to deliver the Games right on time.”

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Ian Ransom

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