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Japan gov't spending on 2020 Games estimated at 1 tril. yen, 7 times original amount

This Nov. 15, 2019 photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter shows the new National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, in Tokyo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Japan is expected to spend an estimated total of 1.06 trillion yen (roughly $9.77 billion) for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, including related projects, according to a projection released by the Board of Audit of Japan on Nov. 4.

The figure, projected to be spent on 340 different projects, is seven times larger than what the state had initially agreed on, at 150 billion yen. While the government has only disclosed the amount of spending on projects directly linked to the games and avoided calculating a total sum of its expenditures including related expenses, the audit board urged the government to determine the whole spending picture and release it to the public.

The board announced a preliminary calculation in October 2018 that Japan had spent an estimated 801.1 billion yen ($7.38 billion) for 286 Olympic and Paralympic projects in fiscal 2013-2017. In the latest estimate, the audit board queried each ministry and agency and calculated their spending on 71 schemes in 15 different fields through fiscal 2018 and found that the figure had increased by nearly 260 billion yen ($2.4 billion) -- including 62 billion yen ($571 million) for the new National Stadium, 10.3 billion yen ($95 million) for expanding national training centers and 14.8 billion yen ($136 million) for full-scale operation of security-related projects.

Following the audit board's 2018 report, the government divided the amount presented by the organization into three groups: spending directly related to the Olympics and Paralympics; spending that is difficult to draw a line on whether it is for the games or administrative services; and spending that has relatively little connection with the games. Of these, the government has shelved calculations for groups B and C. The board nonetheless calculated spending in the same way it did in 2018.

In its report, the board pointed out that expenses of 13.4 billion yen ($123 million), including the cost of building temporary standby posts for police forces dispatched from across Japan, which should have been posted as direct expenditures, were not included in the latest budget since they are booked as an assumed debt burden in state coffers, under which the actual spending happens next fiscal year or later.

Regarding the National Stadium, facilitated by the Japan Sport Council (JSC) with resources from the national and Tokyo Metropolitan governments, the audit board pointed out the possibility that the state might have to cover the cost of maintenance and management in case privatization of the stadium was delayed after the games. The board also said sales of "Toto" soccer lottery tickets, used as a resource for the stadium, are declining due to a shrinking lottery market and suggested that the total of 78 billion yen ($718 million) that the JSC has borrowed for the stadium could become an additional cost for the government.

The total cost of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics is estimated at 1.35 trillion yen ($12.4 billion), and it has been agreed that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will cover 600 billion yen each, while the national government will pitch in 150 billion yen. The Tokyo government has allocated an additional 810 billion yen for "related costs." The relocation of the marathon and race walk venues from Tokyo to Sapporo, the capital of the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, was not calculated into the estimate as the location change was only announced shortly before the report was released.

In response to the audit board's report, the administrative office responsible for the Olympics and Paralympics within the Cabinet Secretariat commented that the review includes expenses for projects whose relevance to the games was "extremely low" and that it "lacks accuracy to be considered as the cost of the games." The office added, "We will be dividing it into groups as previously done and present it to the board."

(Japanese original by Toru Watanabe, City News Department)

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