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Governor's money scandal a blow to Tokyo's administration, Olympics

Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe is pictured in front of banners promoting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters on June 14, 2016. (Mainichi)

Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe's political funds scandal and his ensuing resignation over the issue have stalled the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's administrative work, casting a shadow over the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Central government insiders were calling on Mazuzoe to step down at an early date, with one source criticizing him, saying, "Mr. Masuzoe is exploiting sports for political gain." Another source said prior to the governor's announcement to step down, "If the issue prolongs, the international community could cast a doubt on Tokyo hosting the 2020 Games."

During intensive deliberations at the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly's general affairs committee on June 13, Masuzoe pleaded for pushing back the passage of a no-confidence motion against him, saying, "If the motion is passed, a gubernatorial election has to be called in the midst of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic and Paralympic Games (in August and September). I want the assembly to give me grace (until the Games are over)."

A central government insider condemned his remarks, saying, "It will be like putting the cart before the horse to delay his resignation until after the Rio Games. He wouldn't be able to refute it if he was criticized as exploiting sports for political purposes."

Masuzoe apparently attempted to save his governorship as he was scheduled to attend the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic games, which are slated for Aug. 21 and Sept. 18, respectively, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. At those ceremonies, the Olympic and Paralympic flags are handed over to the mayor of the next host city, with the mayor coming under the global spotlight.

A senior metropolitan government official in charge of the Tokyo Olympics said, "If the governor's post was vacant due to an election, we would simply decide an alternative attendant (for those ceremonies) after conferring with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), citing an unexpected situation."

Meanwhile, the costs for hosting the Tokyo Games are expected to rise to 2-3 trillion yen. On March 31, Masuzoe set up a forum for discussion with Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Olympic Minister Toshiaki Endo to deliberate on cost-sharing. Masuzoe was positive about reviewing an original financial plan and allowing the metropolitan government to shoulder a certain amount of additional costs.

A central government insider expressed concern, saying, "We cannot foresee how much of the costs the metropolitan government is going to shoulder. While the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee would have wanted to discuss rough budget plans for the Tokyo Games with the IOC after the Rio Games are over, Masuzoe's scandal will affect such schedules."

A source in the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee complained, "Because Mr. Masuzoe brought up the issue of the Olympic Games (in connection with his political fate), it tarnished the image of the Olympics."

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