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Tokyo estimates costs for 3 Olympic facilities can be slashed by 40 bil. yen

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has estimated that the costs of building and maintaining three key venues for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics could be slashed by up to some 40 billion yen, a senior official said.

    An investigative team within the metropolitan government's administration reform panel has called for a fundamental review of the three facilities -- a swimming pool a venue for volleyball and one for rowing/canoe events.

    An expert pointed out that the costs can be slashed by such a large amount because the original estimate was too lax.

    According to the high-ranking official of the metropolitan government, the estimated costs for the Olympic Aquatics Center in Koto Ward could be reduced by around 18 billion yen. The costs have already fallen by 6.8 billion yen because a joint venture led by major general contractor Obayashi Corp. made a successful bid for the construction project for 46.98 billion yen, as compared with the original estimate of approximately 53.84 billion yen.

    Moreover, the panel has concluded that 3 billion yen for security-related costs during construction and 3 billion yen set aside as reserve funds could be slashed.

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires an Olympic host city to incorporate costs for security in the budget for venue construction costs to make sure that explosives are not hidden in construction materials.

    The metropolitan government included security costs without knowing how much it should secure, but concluded that the costs could be cut after checking with the IOC.

    Reserve funds are set aside to finance possible additional construction work and other unexpected expenses and are not used unless requested by the IOC or other relevant bodies.

    Furthermore, approximately 7.4 billion yen allocated for work to reduce the number of seats and downscale facilities after the Olympics and Paralympics could be saved if the facilities were to be used as they are following the games, the official said.

    The metropolitan government has also determined that costs for the Ariake Arena, which will be used as a venue for the volleyball event, could be reduced by about 3 billion yen through a deep cut in security-related expenses by up to 1.8 billion yen and reserve funds by a maximum of 1.5 billion yen.

    The local body has also explained that the costs for the Sea Forest Waterway for rowing/canoe events could be cut from an original estimate of 49.1 billion yen to around 30 billion yen. The reduction would be made possible by reviewing 9 billion yen set aside as reserve funds, 2 billion yen for security costs and 6 billion yen for the construction of the facility that Tokyo plans to foot in cooperation with international sports associations.

    However, the metropolitan government has failed to show the specific breakdown of the costs to be slashed.

    Tomoyuki Suzuki, director of the Japan Sports Law Association who participated in Tokyo's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, raised questions about the fact that the local body announced that it could reduce the expenses around the time Gov. Yuriko Koike met with IOC President Thomas Bach on Oct. 18.

    "It's obvious that the metropolitan government said it could reduce the costs because Bach (who is calling for reductions in expenses) came to Japan. The metropolitan government's initial estimate must've been too lax," Suzuki said. "Allocating 9 billion yen as reserve funds for the Sea Forest Waterway is unthinkable for other local bodies."

    Gov. Koike said the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will announce in the near future its decision on a review of the plan to build the three facilities.

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