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Tokyo expected to go with original venue plan for Olympic rowing/canoe events

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is leaning toward holding Olympic and Paralympic rowing/canoe events at Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay as originally planned, sources close to the case said.

An investigation team within the metropolitan government's administrative reform headquarters had suggested that the venue for rowing/canoe events should be changed to the Naganuma Boat Race Course in Miyagi Prefecture or that the Sea Forest Waterway be built as either a temporary or permanent facility.

Gov. Yuriko Koike, who heads the team, favored the Naganuma plan as a symbol of the Olympics that will help areas hit by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami -- including Miyagi Prefecture -- recover from the disasters. However, the plan will unlikely be adopted.

The international organizations for these sports and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee had expressed reluctance to accept the Naganuma plan on the grounds that the facility is far away from Tokyo.

The metropolitan government is now in favor of building Sea Forest Waterway as a temporary facility because it could reduce the estimated construction costs from 32.8 billion yen for a permanent facility to 29.8 billion yen.

Moreover, the metropolitan government is favoring Ariake Arena in Koto Ward as the venue for volleyball events as initially planned. The investigation team has proposed that the events be held at either the planned Ariake Arena or the existing Yokohama Arena.

The team estimated that volleyball events could be held at Yokohama Arena for only 700 million yen, including the fee for using the facility and the costs of installing temporary seats for spectators, while the construction of Ariake Arena is estimated to cost some 37 billion yen.

The International Olympic Committee said at a meeting in early November that it was in favor of using Yokohama Arena due to its lower costs. However, volleyball organizations and the organizing committee expressed hope that Ariake Arena will be built because Yokohama Arena does not have enough space for athletes to warm up prior to games.

The investigation team has also proposed to use the Olympic Aquatics Center in Koto Ward, which will also be newly built as originally planned. However, the team suggests that its seating capacity should remain at 20,000 or be reduced to either 15,000 or 5,000 after the Games.

A final decision on the venues for these events will be decided at a meeting between representatives from the IOC, the central and metropolitan governments and the organizing committee in Tokyo on Nov. 29.

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