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Cost of postponed 2020 Olympics can be reduced by 1-2% at most: sources

In this aerial photo taken on May 26, 2020, the National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, is seen in the center. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The estimated cut in the cost for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics postponed by simplifying the events due to the coronavirus pandemic is only in range of tens of billions of yen, or 1-2% at most, several sources revealed on Sept. 18.

    Currently, the cost of the 2020 Games totals 1.35 trillion yen (approximately $12.9 billion), but this amount is projected to increase to the tune of 300 billion yen or more after additional costs for extending contracts and other items are included due to the postponement of the games to next summer. To tackle the issue of the ballooning costs, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in June reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to simplify the events through streamlining, making the plan more rational.

    However, the cost of building venues, which accounts for more than half of the total cost, has already been paid, and the proposed cuts do not extend to number of events and participating athletes. Cost reductions were therefore limited.

    According to the sources, the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the torch relay were among the subjects to be reviewed, but the IOC expressed reluctance to shorten the ceremonies in accordance with the wishes of television networks, which will pay for broadcasting rights. The plan to carry the Olympic torch across Japan in a span of 121 days was also retained, as coordinating with local governments to shorten the days for the torch relay has proven to be difficult.

    The number of items to be reviewed totaled over 200 in the beginning, but was reduced to some 60 in four different fields, with the plans for transportation, levels of services and other items being reworked at the moment. The organizing committee and IOC are set to meet along with other parties involved on Sept. 24-25 to discuss over how the events can be adjusted.

    A source close to the games told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We don't have specific numbers yet, but there is hardly anything that can be reduced. (The amount that can be cut) is going to be around 1 or 2% of the total cost of 1.35 trillion yen." Another source said, "We can't say that the items to be reduced have amounted to 20 billion yen in cuts. We are aiming to stack up (the items for review) to reach a bit more than 13.5 billion yen, or 1% of the total cost. But if we were able to cut 10% of the cost at this stage, our efforts (to cut the cost) up to now would be questioned."

    The organizing committee, meanwhile, maintained that it was still in the process of working out what should get simplified so that it can reach an agreement at the meeting. A representative commented, "We will examine the event reduction effects as soon as we get consensus (at the meeting). We are nowhere near the stage where we can present concrete numbers."

    Based on the discussion at the meeting, the organizing committee plans to set the amount of reductions in the fifth budget to be released at the end of the year after presenting the scale of expected effects at the IOC executive board meeting scheduled for early October.

    (Japanese original by Akira Matsumoto and Kazuhiro Tahara, Sports News Department)

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