IOC boss ducks Korea row during Tokyo 2020 visit
INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach yesterday dodged questions over reports some Tokyo 2020 events could be held in South Korea, a move which would further embarrass beleaguered Games organisers.
The IOC is considering staging rowing and canoeing in the South Korean city of Chungju, according to Japanese media, amid efforts to slash a Tokyo 2020 budget which has skyrocketed to an estimated US$28 billion – four times the initial bid.
Bach was hurriedly ushered out of a press briefing in the Japanese capital after answering prepared questions from Tokyo Olympic officials, hinting at further friction between local organisers and city politicians.
Relocating events would be seen a major humiliation for Tokyo organisers, although a Seoul sports ministry official told AFP the reports came as a “surprise”.
Bach and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike agreed on October 18 to set up a four-party working group comprising Tokyo’s metropolitan government, the IOC, Games organisers and the Japanese government to try to rein in costs.
Koike, who became Tokyo’s first female governor in July after promising to slash wasteful spending, then proposed national and international sports federations be added to that working group, but Bach clearly felt otherwise.
The option of moving rowing and canoeing to South Korea comes after a panel of experts proposed moving the events to northeast Japan, several hundreds of miles away, instead of building a new venue in Tokyo Bay.
The panel also called for existing venues in Tokyo to be renovated to stage volleyball and swimming to help cut costs further, as it predicted the total cost for the 2020 Games would hit nearly $30 billion, almost three times higher than London 2012.
Tokyo organisers have lurched from one crisis to another since beating Madrid and Istanbul in the race to host the Games, with Abe forced to rip up initial plans for the Olympic stadium amid public opposition to its $2 billion price tag.
The Tokyo logo was then scrapped after accusations of plagiarism before French prosecutors launched an investigation into $2 million in payments which they suspect were made to help Tokyo secure the Games. –