Tokyo will still host canoeing, rowing

TOKYO • Tokyo will not relocate the 2020 Olympic rowing and canoe sprint competitions outside the capital to save money, the city's governor, Yuriko Koike, has said, but volleyball could be moved to neighbouring Yokohama.

Koike has vowed to cut the cost of the Games amid warnings that the bill could rise to US$30 billion (S$42.8 billion) - four times the initial estimate.

However, yesterday she ruled out an earlier suggestion by her review panel to move the rowing and canoe sprints hundreds of kilometres north of Tokyo. Japanese media had earlier reported that the South Korean city of Chungju was also considered as an option.

The Games' organising committee, however, faced criticism after telling International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials it would keep costs below US$20 billion.

"We're on the same page but let's get this thing done," the IOC vice-president John Coates told reporters after the meeting in Tokyo.

"You have heard that Tokyo 2020 are putting a ceiling on the budget at this stage of US$20 billion. The IOC has not agreed to that amount of money. We think the Games can be delivered for significantly less than that.

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    Rising costs of organising the Tokyo Olympics could see the bill come up to US$30 billion, four times the original estimate.

"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 US$20 billion. It is not, and there will be significant savings to be found."

Koike, whose consideration of venue changes was criticised by the Tokyo 2020 organising committee's president, Yoshiro Mori, confirmed that a new aquatics stadium would be built in Tokyo as planned, but with fewer seats.

The new aquatics centre will have 15,000 instead of 20,000 seats to avoid the additional cost of reducing the venue's capacity after the Games have ended, Koike said.

The tweak will shave 17 billion yen (S$215.46 million) off the venue's original 58 billion yen price tag, she added.

Koike, however, finally backed the construction of a rowing and canoe sprint site, known as the Sea Forest, in Tokyo Bay after receiving assurances that building costs could be reduced and that the alternative would be too expensive. But she urged the international rowing and canoeing federations to share the cost of building the Sea Forest with Japanese authorities.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Tokyo will still host canoeing, rowing'. Print Edition | Subscribe