IOC gives back­ing to Tokyo’s war­ring fac­tions

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) yes­ter­day pre­dicted that bick­er­ing 2020 Tokyo Games or­gan­is­ers will come to­gether to pro­duce a work­able bud­get as costs threaten to spi­ral out of con­trol.

IOC vice pres­i­dent John Coates, who heads the co­or­di­na­tion com­mis­sion for the Tokyo Olympics, in­sisted Tokyo gov­er­nor Yuriko Koike and lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee head Yoshiro Mori could find com­mon ground de­spite clash­ing over pro­posed venue changes.

“Yes, I’m con­fi­dent that gov­er­nor Koike and pres­i­dent Mori and the two or­gan­i­sa­tions that they lead can work to­gether,” Coates told a news con­fer­ence af­ter con­clud­ing a two-day visit to Tokyo.

“They wouldn’t have par­tic­i­pated in the four-party po­lit­i­cal work­ing group could they not.”

Koike and IOC pres­i­dent Thomas Bach last month agreed to hold dis­cus­sions in­volv­ing the IOC, lo­cal or­gan­is­ers, the Tokyo metropoli­tan gov­ern­ment and the Ja­panese cen­tral gov­ern­ment to ex­plore ways to save money.

Warn­ings that bal­loon­ing costs could hit a stag­ger­ing $30 bil­lion-four times the ini­tial es­ti­mate, and al­most triple that of the 2012 London Olympics-have cast a shadow over Tokyo’s prepa­ra­tions.

But a pledge this week by Ja­panese or­gan­is­ers to put an $18 bil­lion cap on the over­all costs did not go far enough, ac­cord­ing to Coates. “The IOC are not in a po­si­tion yet to ac­cept a bud­get of $20 bil­lion,” he said. “This was a ceil­ing bud­get, a con­sol­i­dated bud­get. The IOC just isn’t go­ing to sign off on a bud­get which we think ex­ceeds the cost of the bud­get the Games can be staged for.”

SNOW­BALLING COSTS

Coates warned that Tokyo’s snow­balling costs could scare off po­ten­tial host cities con­sid­er­ing bids for fu­ture Olympics.

“(Ac­cept­ing such a bud­get) would be giv­ing the wrong im­pres­sion,” he said. “It would also not help us in terms of other can­di­date cities prospec­tively so there is still work to be done. “It’s clear we all have a com­mon ob­jec­tive of sav­ing costs.” Koike ear­lier this week dropped a pro­posal to move the 2020 Olympic ca­noe­ing venue out­side Tokyo, promis­ing in­stead to cut con­struc­tion costs on that and an­other fa­cil­ity.

Her pro­posal would have taken the event 400 kilo­me­tres (250 miles) north of Tokyo to Miyagi pre­fec­ture, one of the ar­eas hard­est hit by Ja­pan’s 2011 tsunami dis­as­ter.

The idea was shot down by Mori and Tokyo 2020 or­gan­is­ers, who ar­gued that such a move was im­prac­ti­cal and could even in­crease costs.

Asked about her ap­par­ent climb-down, Koike gave a cryp­tic rea­son for es­ca­lat­ing costs. “Look, in the end the tax­payer will end up foot­ing the bill and I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to them,” she said. “There are lots of black-headed mice in­volved here,” she added, in a veiled ref­er­ence to the fail­ure to curb costs.

Koike also said Tokyo will build a new aquatic cen­tre with 15,000 seats cost­ing less than the orig­i­nal plan for a 20,000-seat arena. How­ever, a de­ci­sion on whether to build a new vol­ley­ball venue in Tokyo or use an ex­ist­ing one in Yoko­hama, south of the cap­i­tal, was post­poned un­til later this month.

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