Tokyo 2020 Calls for Budget Clarity

(ATR) Tokyo 2020 touts $4.3 billion budget reduction, as national audit broadens the scope of Olympic spending.

(ATR) An audit by the Japanese government says that over $7 billion has been spent in the name of the Olympics in the last five years, but Tokyo 2020 says the figure is not quite accurate.

A report from the Board of Audits in the Japanese government provided the $7 billion (801.1 billion yen) figure. However, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto told Around the Rings that the figure increased from "indirectly related expenses," made by the national government.

Muto said that Tokyo 2020 stands by the total Olympics budget of $12 billion (1.35 trillion yen) divided between the organizing committee, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and national government. In that budget the national government will provide $1.3 billion (150 billion yen) for Games’ projects.

The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee budget was set at $5.3 billion (600 billion yen), the same price tag that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will contribute. Muto said an updated budget, the third for the Olympics, will be provided around December.

The indirect projects that were included in the Board of Audit report include upgrades to weather forecasting satellites, construction of national highways into Tokyo, and development of hydrogen cars. Muto said that these projects may very well end up benefiting hosting the Olympics, but Tokyo 2020 has communicated to the national government that these projects should not be grouped into the Olympic budget.

"These are originally something necessary for the national government to do. The purpose is not just for the Olympic games, but these projects would benefit the people for a long time after the Olympic Games so it is not appropriate and not accurate to call them budgets directly related to the Olympic Games," Muto said to ATR.

"I think there should be a clear demarcation between our budget and those expenses. If there is any or just a little benefit to the Olympics should that be called an Olympic budget? I don’t think that’s accurate."

Budgeting for the Tokyo Olympics has been a major concern for the project since its beginning. Shorty after taking office in 2016 Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike commissioned a review of Games’ finances after reports suggested the Games could cost up to $30 billion. In the original bid documents Tokyo 2020 estimated the Games would cost $7.4 billion (829.9 billion yen).

Even earlier this year Koike said that the TMG’s costs for the Games could increase, but Tokyo 2020 quickly stepped in to say such costs were outside the Olympic budget.

During Tokyo 2020’s presentation to the IOC Muto said that organizers have been able to cut $4.3 billion in costs from the Olympic project. These cuts came from limiting venue construction costs, scaling back test events, decreasing the lease period needed to operate venues, and venue size and composition. Muto said that all decisions had been taken with international federations to be proactive about the budget.

"The agenda 2020 and the new norm will also allow Tokyo 2020 and its government partners to suppress future budget increases due to unforeseen new factors and maintain a balanced budget on our second budget released in 2017," Muto said in his presentation.

After Tokyo’s presentation IOC member from Syria Samih Moudallal questioned if a $4.3 billion reduction would reduce the quality of the Games in two years' time.

Muto attempted to assuage concerns by saying a "detailed analysis was done" by both Tokyo 2020 and the IOC before elaborating on multiple points to where budget reductions were found.

IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said that the IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue to search for cost savings measures from an "experience and economic standpoint" that make sense for Tokyo 2020.

"We have to save money in the last year and the last year is where all the decisions are made on all the detailed elements," Dubi said. "We have another year and a half and we are going to look for solutions that make sense from an experience and economic standpoint. It is very detailed work.

"We want to avoid that we don’t over deliver and under consume."

Other issues remaining for Tokyo 2020 to sort out will be the date of the swimming test event, and more savings around the Sea Forest venue on Tokyo Bay.

Tokyo 2020 says the swimming test event is on schedule to take place after April 2019, but a date has still not been finalized. The venue is scheduled to be completed in February 2020.

Regarding the Sea Forest venue, Muto says that Tokyo 2020 and the IOC are discussing plans to reduce costs for transportation around it, as well as venue capacity. The location of the venue is far from many public transit options, requiring Tokyo 2020 to provide additional transport.

Written by Aaron Bauer

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