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Tokyo 2020 to stick with venue plans as IOC calls for further cost cuts

The organising committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games has opted to stick with original venue plans for rowing, canoeing and swimming events amid calls from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to implement further cost-cutting measures.

During a four-party working group meeting held today (Tuesday), it was agreed that the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay would stage rowing and canoeing events as originally planned.

The Naganuma rowing course in Tome, Miyagi had been proposed as an alternative after organisers were urged to relocate venues amid spiralling costs. The working group, which comprises representatives from the organising committee, the IOC and the Japanese and metropolitan governments, said Naganuma would instead be used as a training site for visiting teams.

The working group also decided that a 15,000-capacity venue would be built to stage aquatics events. The facility will not incur any additional costs after the Games.

The working group also discussed venue options for volleyball, but Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike requested that a decision be postponed until Christmas. The IOC granted the request.

The Kyodo news agency reported that Koike is seeking more time to weigh up the options of hosting volleyball at a new facility, the Ariake Arena, or the existing Yokohama Arena. Koike feels the Y40.7bn (€340.5m/$360.4m) price tag of the Ariake Arena is “too expensive” and will now review it from an architectural perspective.

Last week it emerged that the organising committee for the Games was 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, yet IOC vice-president John Coates feels the figure is still too high and said the Games can be delivered for much less.

“I think we're on the same page but let's get this thing done,” Coates (pictured) said, according to Kyodo. “You have heard that Tokyo 2020 are putting a ceiling on the budget at this stage of $20bn. The IOC has not agreed to that amount of money. We think the operational costs of the Games can be delivered for significantly less than that.

"We think we're in a good stage here, but I don't want to let the international media have the impression that the costs of running the Games in a city like Tokyo, where you have so many existing venues, is $20bn. It is not, and there will be significant savings to be found.

"From the IOC, we want to make it abundantly clear – particularly as we are going into a situation where the 2024 host city will be decided next year – and the international media and the public are scrutinising these figures very closely. It is unfair to the IOC to give a misconception in this area."

Coates added that the IOC is "extremely pleased" with the progress made over the past month on cost-cutting measures. However, Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games, admitted that finalising the volleyball venue plan will require a huge amount of work, adding the task should have been completed some time ago.

“If the decision is to go to Yokohama, we have to make sure all agreements are in place so we do not meet any hurdles that would prevent us to use the venue down the road,” Dubi said. “It has to be understood that the work we do in the coming weeks is generally something we ask at the time of the candidature.”