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Olympic officials relying on lottery ticket sales to help pay for new stadium

Japanese officials are relying on continued high sales of soccer lottery tickets to cover over half of the projected costs for the new National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, it has been learned.

    The national government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reached an agreement on Dec. 1 over the division of costs for the stadium, which could be as high as 158.1 billion yen. One quarter of this amount is to be covered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, while according to the Japan Sports Agency, 35.9 billion has already been secured. The remaining 82.7 billion yen is to be covered by sales of "Toto" soccer lottery tickets.

    Next year the national government plans to amend relevant laws in order to boost the percentage of Toto sales that go toward the stadium from the current 5 percent to 10 percent for eight years.

    Toto tickets, sold by the Japan Sport Council, first went on sale in fiscal 2001, in order to raise funds for promoting sport. Buyers make predictions, such as on the results of matches in the Japan Professional Football League (J.League), and win money if their predictions are correct. In addition to Toto, there are also lottery tickets sold under the brand name "BIG," where the predictions are not made by the buyer but provided as random generations by a computer.

    Sales from Toto tickets could contribute 11 billion yen a year based on the 10 percent application toward the stadium and sales equivalent to those of fiscal 2014, which recorded the highest level ever at 110 billion yen. If this rate can be maintained, Toto sales would provide 88 billion yen over the course of eight years.

    However, fiscal 2014's sales may have been greatly boosted by it being the first fiscal year to include the World Cup in the matches it covers. Meanwhile BIG sales, which account for about 70 percent of the combined lottery tickets overall, were about the same as the previous fiscal year. There has been discussion on expanding the sports covered by the lottery tickets beyond soccer, but no conclusion on this has yet been reached.

    Professor of sports management Naoyuki Harada of Wako University, who is knowledgeable about Toto tickets, says of the stadium financing plan, "It is based on Toto sales being maintained (at their fiscal 2014 level,) and I have to say it is as dangerous as walking a tightrope." He added, "It is necessary to advertise that Toto will be contributing to the promotion of sport and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to create a mood where many people will buy the tickets as a form of donation."

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