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Tokyo 2020 set to retain venue location plan under cost-cutting drive

Tokyo’s government is set to focus on reducing costs at originally proposed venues for the 2020 summer Olympic Games rather than moving certain events to different sites, according to reports in Japanese media today (Thursday).

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike last month agreed to establish a four-party working group amid increasing concerns over rising costs for the Games. The group met for the first time on November 1 to put forward alternative venue options for rowing and canoeing, swimming and volleyball in a bid to cut costs. The meeting was held after a Koike-appointed Tokyo government panel in September urged organisers to relocate venues for the sports.

Among the proposals, the metropolitan government has been considering moving rowing and canoeing outside of Tokyo to Miyagi Prefecture, some 250 miles north of the capital, in order to utilise an existing facility rather than develop a new venue at Sea Forest Waterway on the fringes of Tokyo Bay.

This proposal has proved particularly controversial, but the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) newspaper said the city is now moving towards building new venues for these and several other events in Tokyo as originally planned, although it would cut the price tags by modifying plans.

For the Sea Forest Waterway site, the city planned to cut costs to Y29.8bn (€253.1m/$268.3m) from Y49.1bn through utilising temporary seating, the Nikkei said. Similar modifications would be made for planned gymnastics and swimming venues, the newspaper added.

The Kyodo news agency added that the issue could be discussed further on Sunday by working-level representatives of the four-party group involving the IOC, 2020 Games organisers and the central Japanese and Tokyo metropolitan governments. The topic will then be taken up at a top-level meeting of the four-way group scheduled for Tuesday.

Earlier this week it emerged that the organising committee for the Games is seeking to settle its overall budget at about Y2tr. This is Y1tr less than the projected figure released earlier this month by the Tokyo metropolitan government. Tokyo had proposed an initial budget of Y734bn when it submitted its bid to stage the Games to the IOC in 2013.