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Tokyo gov't lied to IOC over construction costs for 2020 Games venue

(Mainichi)

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government gave the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a false estimate for the cost of construction work on a rowing and canoe-kayak (sprint) venue for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics two years ago, to obtain the IOC's approval to hold the events there during the Tokyo Games, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

Tokyo metro government documents clearly indicate that construction of a rowing and canoe-kayak venue for the games is expected to cost 25.1 billion yen, with total building and maintenance expenses to reach 49.1 billion yen. However, the Tokyo government told the IOC that permanent facilities would only cost 9.8 billion yen to build.

"The IOC pointed out that our expenses were too high, so we gave them an unfounded figure," a senior Tokyo Metropolitan Government official told the Mainichi.

The Olympics and Paralympics investigative team of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's administrative reform headquarters pointed out in a mid-term report released in late September that the overall cost for building and maintaining Sea Forest Waterway for canoe-kayak and rowing in Tokyo's Koto Ward was too high, and recommended that the events be moved to a pre-existing facility.

Based on the team's recommendation, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is considering the use of Naganuma Boat Race Course in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture. However, the IOC gave Tokyo approval to hold the events at Sea Forest Waterway, indicating the possibility that the IOC is not aware how high the cost of holding the events there is estimated to run.

Gov. Koike is expected to explain the events that led to her consideration of an alternative site when she meets with IOC President Thomas Bach on Oct. 18. The talks are expected to highlight the difference in the understanding of the situation between the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the IOC.

When Tokyo was bidding for the 2020 Games, the Sea Forest Waterway was estimated to cost 6.9 billion yen, but in a later calculation carried out in September 2013, the cost was reset at 103.8 billion yen. According to sources close to the case, the IOC expressed alarm that the cost had ballooned to over 15 times the initial estimate, and requested that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government keep its expenses down to 10 billion yen or less.

Following a reconsideration of its expenditures, the Tokyo government in November 2014 came up with a total building and maintenance cost of 49.1 billion yen, earmarking 25.1 billion for construction of the canoe-kayak and rowing venue, and 8.6 billion yen for other building and maintenance expenses. Meanwhile, the metro government explained to the IOC via the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that 9.8 billion yen would be used for the construction of permanent canoe-kayak and rowing facilities, while the remaining 39.3 billion yen would be spent on building and maintaining "legacy" facilities such as surrounding parks -- for which the IOC gave approval. The breakdown of the 25.1-billion-yen cost of construction of permanent facilities was made public through an answer to a question from the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in late December of 2014.

The aforementioned senior Tokyo official admitted to the Mainichi that the metro government gave the IOC the falsified construction cost of 9.8 billion yen. "The IOC instructed us to provide the estimated cost of holding the games and estimated 'legacy' expenses separately, and we gave them a baseless figure (that was below 10 billion yen)," the official explained.

An inside source said, "The revelations indicate that the IOC gave Tokyo the green light to hold the events there based on groundless numbers. This means that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's estimates themselves are now in question, eliminating the basis for relocation of canoe-kayak and rowing to a different venue."

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