Tokyo - IOC vice-president John Coates kicked off a
three-day evaluation of Tokyo's preparations for the 2020 Olympics on Wednesday
by emphasizing the need for further cost cuts.
The price tag of the 2020 Games has ballooned since Tokyo
won the bid, even after a major cost-cutting effort.
Tokyo Olympic organizers have said that the estimated cost
is now $12.6 billion. When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in
September 2013, the total was $6.6 billion.
Since taking over as IOC president in 2013, Thomas Bach has
driven a cost-cutting agenda to entice cities to bid for future games.
Prior to a tour of several venues, Coates met with Tokyo
organisers and stressed the need to consider the effect of cost on future bids.
"It is important to us that when the costs of the games
and the final analysis become public, they are going to be a reason to attract
candidate cities," said Coates, who heads the IOC's coordination
commission for the Tokyo Games. "To attract them rather than to scare them
"We want to work with you in that regard. So if we
appear to be pushing very hard on saving money it is for our own future that we
do it, just as much as you want to do it for your taxpayers."
The IOC is encouraging the use of existing and temporary facilities
instead of building new ones. Tokyo organizers have already planned to move
several events outside the city to do that.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike launched a further cost-cutting push
after taking office last summer as one estimate for the 2020 Games rose to more
than $27 billion.
Local organizers say their efforts to reduce costs have
resulted in over $1.8 billion in savings and that further savings are possible.
Coates also is pushing for progress on the allocation of
baseball and softball games to Fukushima, an area hit by the 2011 earthquake
and nuclear disaster.
The IOC and Tokyo organisers are eager to use the games as a
symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster.
Entire communities were displaced after meltdowns at the
Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, 240 kilometres north of Tokyo.
Bach met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year
and suggested staging some events in the north-eastern region.
"We need to finalise how many games in baseball and
softball go to Fukushima," Coates said. "We really want to honour the
commitment that president Bach made to Prime Minister Abe to take events to
Fukushima as parts of the recovery and rehabilitation. I think it is critical
and we will do that."