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SBD Global/June 12, 2014/Olympics

Japan Sports Minister Says Review Of 2020 Tokyo Olympics Venue Plans 'Inevitable'

Japan Sports Minister Hakubun Shimomura said Wednesday that a review of the venue plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games is "inevitable" in the face of mounting costs, endorsing Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe's decision the previous day to launch it, according to KYODO. Shimomura, head of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology said, "There is no choice but to review (the plans) within the scope of our commitments to the International Olympic Committee." Shimomura said that the review is "an appropriate decision" and reflects a view that the original venue budget cannot cover mounting personnel and construction costs (KYODO, 6/11). REUTERS' Elaine Lies wrote construction and labor costs "have been pushed higher around Japan by the country's expanding economy and rebuilding efforts after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which devastated a wide swathe of the northeastern coastline." Questions have also been raised "about the cost of maintaining the venues after the Olympics and how useful they will be to Tokyo citizens." A Tokyo government official said that the original Olympics proposal, which budgeted some 153.8B yen ($1.5B) for venues, "did not take into account the impact of the Japanese consumption tax hike that took place in April and did not predict the sharp rise in construction costs." He added, "We still don't know what venues will be involved or what the scale of the revisions might be." The official said that "it was far too early to say whether the original budget would be sufficient but that final calculations for a number of expenses, including tests on the reclaimed land being used for several venues, still needed to be made." The review "will not include the new main stadium, which has been slammed for being too large for its site and too expensive to maintain after the Games, since it is being paid for by the national government and not Tokyo" (REUTERS, 6/11). The AFP reported among the environmental concerns "is a venue for the canoe slalom event that conservationists say could threaten wild animals including endangered species." Tokyo's organizing committee for the Games said that it would hold an "adjustment meeting" on Thursday with the top city politician and Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda in attendance (AFP, 6/11).
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