A working group met for the first time today (Tuesday) to put forward venue options for a number of sports in a bid to cut costs for Tokyo’s staging of the 2020 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The group, comprising representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Tokyo metropolitan and Japanese governments, and the Games organising committee, was proposed by IOC president Thomas Bach in a meeting with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike last month.
In September, a Tokyo government panel urged the organising committee for the Games to relocate three venues for the multi-sport showpiece after warning that costs of hosting could soar to more than Y3tr (€25.8bn/$29bn), over four times the figure that was originally planned.
The panel, appointed by Koike (pictured) to find ways to save money on hosting the Games, published a report that recommended venues for rowing and canoeing, swimming and volleyball be moved outside of Tokyo to alternate sites. The working group is seeking to finalise plans for the three venues.
Rowing and canoeing events are due to be held at Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay, although Naganuma rowing course in Tome, Miyagi – one of the prefectures hit hardest by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – has been proposed as an alternative.
Prior to today’s meeting, however, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that that the Tokyo municipal government had decided that refurbishing the Naganuma site could not be completed for the Games, given the time needed to buy land and carry out an environmental impact assessment.
Naganuma was nevertheless proposed as an alternative option to Sea Forest Waterway during today’s meeting, according to Kyodo, along with the existing plan for a new permanent venue and also one developed as a temporary facility.
A downgrade in scope at Sea Forest Waterway could decrease the estimated construction and operational cost from an original Y70bn to about Y30bn. Alternatively, using the existing facility in Miyagi would require investing an estimated Y35bn to enhance it to Olympic standards.
Kyodo said that two plans were put forward by the city for a new aquatics centre – a 20,000-capacity venue and a 15,000-capacity facility. The centre will be constructed in the same neighbourhood as the existing Tatsumi International Swimming Center. The city also proposed that the original idea of reducing seating at the venue after the Games be reconsidered.
Koike’s team also proposed two options for the volleyball venue – the new, Y3.7bn Ariake Arena or the existing Yokohama Arena.
“The IOC wanted several options to discuss at the working group, not just one,” Koike said, according to Kyodo. “The meetings that started today will be very technical and we hope we can narrow down our options through the discussions.”