Olympics: Chief organiser confident Tokyo Games will overcome 'hurdles'

Tokyo CEO Toshiro Muto has stated that preparations are going well for the 2020 Olympics.
Tokyo CEO Toshiro Muto has stated that preparations are going well for the 2020 Olympics. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - The chief organiser of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has expressed confidence the Games will overcome their "hurdles" after a series of problems, including a French inquiry into the bidding process.

"Preparations are going smoothly," Tokyo CEO Toshiro Muto told AFP in an interview. "It's important to overcome hurdles one by one."

Tokyo has lurched from one crisis to another since beating Madrid and Istanbul in the race to host the Games, the low point coming when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scrapped plans for the main stadium last July over its US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) price tag.

Claims of plagiarism then forced organisers to ditch the Olympic logo, while the decision by French prosecutors to investigate how Tokyo and this year's Rio Games won their bids is set to cause further embarrassment.

"Tokyo 2020 considers that the allegation is beyond our understanding," said Muto, a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan. "We understand that the Games were awarded to Tokyo because the city presented the best bid."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has stressed there is "so far no evidence" of corruption surrounding bidding for the Rio or Tokyo Games.

Back in Tokyo, a comedy of errors continued on Friday when it emerged bungling organisers had not worked out where to put the Games cauldron without creating a fire risk.

"They realise that now?" shrieked one television presenter. "It's like going camping and forgetting your tent."

Image problems aside, Tokyo has struggled to contain escalating costs since being selected by the IOC in 2013, with fears the total budget could exceed US$15 billion - six times the original plan and three times more than Rio's.