Olympics: Koike says 2020 canoeing venue to stay in Tokyo

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Tuesday (Nov 29) dropped a proposal to move a 2020 Olympic canoeing venue outside the capital.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Tuesday (Nov 29) dropped a proposal to move a 2020 Olympic canoeing venue outside the capital. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tokyo (AFP) - Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Tuesday dropped a proposal to move a 2020 Olympic canoeing venue outside the capital, instead vowing to cut construction costs on that and another facility.

Warnings that skyrocketing expenses could hit an eye-popping US$30 billion (S$42.82 billion) - four times the initial estimate and almost triple that of the 2012 London Olympics - have cast a shadow over the Tokyo Games.

Last month Koike and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach agreed to discussions by the IOC, Tokyo 2020 organisers, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Japanese central government to explore ways to achieve savings.

Koike said that the venue for canoeing and rowing will be kept in Tokyo as planned but vowed to build it at a sharply reduced cost.

She had proposed moving the event 400km north of Tokyo to Miyagi prefecture, one of the areas hardest hit by Japan's 2011 tsunami disaster.

But the idea faced resistance from Tokyo 2020 organisers who argued that changing venue plans was impractical and could actually end up costing more.

Koike also said that Tokyo will build a new aquatic centre with 15,000 seats, smaller and cheaper than the original plan for a 20,000-seat facility.

"Tokyo views costs seriously," she said at a meeting of the four parties where she made the announcement.

But she said about another month will be needed to decide whether to build a new volleyball venue in Tokyo or use an existing one in Yokohama, south of the capital.