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Tokyo gov't allocated Olympic-Paralympic budget to unrelated bureaus

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government allocated the Olympic and Paralympic-related budget of at least 23.2 billion yen to several different bureaus that are not in charge of the 2020 Games essentially to hide large spending to supplement the cost of facility construction that had been slashed, it has been learned.

With the 23.2 billion yen and other expenses requested by The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, expenses related to construction of facilities for the events that the metropolitan government will be shouldering totaled at least 310.4 billion yen.

According to Tokyo's Bureau of Olympic and Paralympic Games Preparation, the cost of Olympic-Paralympic-related construction was estimated at 153.8 billion yen for some 11 facilities at the time Tokyo was bidding to host the games. When it was recalculated in September 2013 after Tokyo won the bid, the metropolitan government learned that the cost would increase threefold to 458.4 billion yen due to soaring prices of construction materials amid disaster recovery efforts after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The metropolitan government then reviewed the plan and canceled construction of three facilities and reduced the amount to 224.1 billion yen as of the November 2014 estimate.

At the same time, Tokyo was placing Olympics-Paralympics-related expenses against the budgets of other bureaus, such as: the cost of coastal levee construction (972 million yen) in the Harumi area of Chuo Ward on the Port and Harbor Bureau's fiscal 2016 budget, the basic designing cost of a new gymnastics stadium in the Ariake district in Koto Ward (480 million yen) on the Industrial and Labor Affairs Bureau's fiscal 2016 budget, the estimated cost of base construction for the athletes' village (about 17.97 billion yen) to the Urban Development Bureau's budget for fiscal 2016 to 2018 and the cost of removing a bridge connecting two landfill areas in the Central Breakwater located in Tokyo Bay (3.8 billion yen) on the Environment Bureau's fiscal 2016-2018 budget -- totaling 23.2 billion yen.

In addition to facility construction-related budgets, the metropolitan government has allocated 18.3 billion yen for purchasing land for an arena stadium in Ariake and is set to shoulder 44.8 billion yen for the new National Stadium, making the overall cost that Tokyo will be covering for the 2020 Games at least 310.4 billion yen.

Furthermore, the metropolitan government is expected to add the cost of the Ariake gymnastics stadium and purchasing the Kishi Memorial Hall Gymnasium premises in Shibuya Ward to its budget.

While the Ariake stadium is planned to be a temporary building for which the metropolitan government should not have to help cover construction costs under normal circumstances, Tokyo signed an accord with the organizing committee in May this year, which stated that the metropolitan government would shoulder part of the cost of the stadium under the agreement that the facility would be turned into an exhibition hall after the games are over. The estimated cost of the project was 8.9 billion yen before Tokyo won the bid to host the Games, but has since soared threefold to about 25.9 billion yen.

However, the accord also states that the amount of the metropolitan government's share and other details will be subject to further negotiation, meaning that Tokyo's overall spending on the stadium is yet to be determined. An official from the Industrial and Labor Affairs Bureau says there is demand for such a hall as the Tokyo Big Site showroom nearby, which has over a 70 percent usage rate.

The metropolitan government administrative reform headquarters is currently examining the lack of transparency in the Olympic budget and plans to release an interim report on the matter on Sept. 29.

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