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New sports place financial strain on 2020 Olympic organizers

Following the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) add five sports to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics with 18 events, organizers are brooding over how to prevent costs from ballooning.

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, appeared relieved when the IOC's announcement for these new events, which he had pushed for, was made. However, he began to look somewhat troubled when the question of costs was brought up at a news conference.

"I'd like to avoid there being a (large) increase in costs from the introduction of the new events," he said. Whether or not Tokyo's Olympic and Paralympic organizers can do this is the biggest factor in whether or not the addition of the new events will be a success or not.

IOC Vice President John Coates, who heads an IOC committee supervising Tokyo's Olympic preparations, explained the proposal for the new events at a general meeting of the IOC. He emphasized that through using Yokohama Stadium as the main site for both baseball and softball events and using facilities around Odaiba for skateboarding and sport climbing, costs for the new events would be low.

A mid- to long-term reform plan passed by the IOC in 2014 called "Olympic Agenda 2020" for the future of the Olympics was adopted in order to address local dissatisfaction with the cost of the Olympics. That dissatisfaction could be seen when in the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics -- set to be held in Beijing -- four cities including Oslo and Stockholm dropped their bids partly due to their populaces objecting to heavy costs. The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics' costs reached 5 trillion yen, the most of any Olympics ever.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were originally estimated at the time of the Olympic bid as costing 734 billion yen. With large jumps in building materials and personnel costs, however, the total soared. Through revising the plans to use existing facilities instead of new ones, additional costs were reduced by about 200 billion yen, but the total is still estimated now at 2 trillion yen. The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has not yet calculated the extra costs from receiving the additional 474 athletes the new events will bring, and thorough cost-cutting will be expected of them.

The committee was already working with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government to comb over the Olympic budget and review the costs each entity will foot. However, negotiations are now expected to start over as Yuriko Koike has replaced Yoichi Masuzoe as governor of Tokyo and the role of Olympics minister has passed from Toshiaki Endo to Tamayo Marukawa.

At the news conference, Mori said, "It will now be difficult to deliver an overall budget by the end of the year." This is despite the fact that the original target for releasing the budget was set shortly after the end of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Mori, Koike and Marukawa will be expected to quickly set up a cooperative relationship to move talks forward.

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