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Ariake Arena set to be venue for Olympic volleyball: sources

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is in final stages of deciding to host the volleyball competition of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics at Ariake Arena in the capital's Koto Ward, multiple sources told the Mainichi Shimbun.

Based on the metro government's recalculation of costs to build Ariake Arena, it came to light that the total cost could be reduced by 6.5 billion yen from the initial estimate. It appears that even if the metro government gave up on the idea of hosting the volleyball events at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama and all of the three venues for volleyball, swimming, and rowing and canoe sprint were to be picked as originally planned, the metro government deemed it possible to gain understanding of Tokyo residents because Koike's election pledge to cut costs of hosting the Games would be realized. Gov. Koike is to announce the final decision as early as next week.

Top officials of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the metro government, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Japanese government held talks on Nov. 29 and decided to pick Sea Forest Waterway in the Tokyo Bay area for rowing and canoe sprint and the Olympic Aquatic Center in Koto Ward for swimming. But they decided to postpone their decision on the venue for volleyball.

The majority of people concerned had opposed the idea of hosting volleyball events in Yokohama as domestic and overseas sports associations and the IOC pointed out the need to use private land surrounding the venue as well as security problems. According to sources, immediately before the Nov. 29 four-party talks, Gov. Koike asked the IOC to "postpone a decision today as we will hold discussions centering on Ariake."

After reducing the construction cost for Ariake Arena from the initial estimate of 40.4 billion yen to 34 to 37.4 billion yen, the metro government further cut the cost to 33.9 billion yen by scrapping plans to install escalators and using lower-grade carpets, exterior cladding and other materials, among other steps. The metro government has decided to seek the understanding of Tokyo residents for hosting the volleyball events at Ariake Arena by considering selling the rights to operate the arena and introducing a designated administrator system as part of efforts to further reduce the financial burden to be shouldered by the metro government.

Meanwhile, Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said at a regular news conference on Dec. 7, "I have a frank view that it is difficult in terms of time (to host the events in Yokohama)." As conditions for hosting the events, the Yokohama Municipal Government has demanded the metro government explain the details on the use of private land to owners on the periphery of Yokohama Arena, explain to local residents if roads near the venue are to be closed, and secure consensus with the organizing committee and relevant sports associations.

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