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Editorial: Debate needed on cost sharing for Tokyo Olympics

The entire picture of the cost of hosting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics has been made public for the first time. It is essential to beef up budget management to further reduce the cost.

After the issue of reviewing the proposed venues for the games was settled, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games announced that it estimates the cost of organizing the games at approximately 1.6 trillion to 1.8 trillion yen, more than twice the initial estimate made when Japan announced its bid to host the 2020 Games -- about 734 billion yen. This shows that the initial estimate was too lax, even considering that the original estimate did not include much of the security and transportation expenses.

An upper limit has not been set on the costs of organizing the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. In September this year, an investigation team within the Tokyo Metropolitan Government pointed to the possibility that the cost could surpass 3 trillion yen. The latest estimate is below 2 trillion yen, but still a colossal amount.

The estimated cost includes 820 billion yen for operating the games and 680 billion yen for building and remodeling venues, as well as 100 billion to 300 billion yen as a reserve fund to cover possible rises in material and personnel expenses. The cost could further rise depending on the economic and security situations.

The organizing committee's total income is expected to be only about 500 billion yen, including sponsorship fees and the proceeds from the sale of tickets to the games. The remaining cost, estimated to surpass 1 trillion yen, must be covered by taxpayers' money.

Attention is focused on who should foot how much.

Under an agreement, if the organizing committee were to be short of funds, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government would make up for the shortage, and if the organizing committee were to be still in the red, the national government would cover the deficit. The national and Tokyo metropolitan governments and the organizing committee began "three-party consultations" in March to review the division of roles in organizing the games and the share of the costs. However, the consultations have been suspended due to the Tokyo governor changing and other factors. The three parties should swiftly clarify the direction of these issues at the consultations expected to be resumed as early as the beginning of next year.

Japan had declared that it would organize a "compact" Olympics when it announced its bid to host the games. However, the Olympics and Paralympics will be held in wide areas of Japan. To trim expenses, organizers decided to cancel the construction of some of the new venues, and some surrounding prefectures, including Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, have agreed to host some of the events. However, most of concerned local bodies have expressed a reluctance to share expenses.

Although Tokyo played a leading role in Japan's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Japan won the bid by declaring that "all of Japan" would organize the games. Such being the case, it is inevitable for local governments that will host some of the events to shoulder certain financial burdens. To persuade the local governments hosting some of the events to share the costs, organizers should provide an in-depth explanation that can convince these local bodies.

About 3 1/2 years are left before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Concerned organizations should closely cooperate with each other to facilitate the preparation to hold the games. However, relevant bodies are not necessarily keeping pace with each other.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Yoshiro Mori, head of the organizing panel, repeatedly attempted to probe each other's true intentions over the venue issue at public talks involving members of the International Olympic Committee. Numerous members of the public saw such scenes through media reports, contributing to the spread of a cynical view of the Tokyo Games.

Those involved in organizing the games should put aside their pursuit of ways to save face and their conflicting interests to share information and propose ideas toward their common goal of making the Olympics and Paralympics a success. Organizers should not be wasting their precious time by engaging in a tug-of-war in a bid to gain the upper hand in organizing the games.

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