TOKYO: The International Olympic Committee and the 2020 Tokyo Games organisers opened their first on-site meeting yesterday to check preparations for the event amid disquiet over soaring costs for some of the venues.
The 16-member IOC coordination commission for the 2020 Summer Olympics was to hold talks with the organisers and tour some of the proposed venues over three days, its first visit to Tokyo since the Japanese capital outbid Istanbul and Madrid last September for the rights to host the event.
The commission, headed by IOC vice president John Coates, will visit Tokyo 10 times before the opening of what the city has promised to be a compact Games with 85 percent of the venues located within an eight-kilometre (five-mile) radius.
Earlier this month, Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe told the metropolitan assembly and the IOC that his administration will have to review the venue plans, largely because of rising construction and labour costs.
In an official document submitted to the IOC, Tokyo has estimated total expenses for venues at about 150bn yen ($1.47bn) including the construction of 10 new facilities.
But it is feared by some assembly members that the price will more than double.
Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister who heads the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, has agreed to the review amid growing concern that the metropolitan administration’s $4bn reserve fund for hosting the Olympics may not be enough.
One of the plans to be reviewed is construction of a canoe course at a seaside park that is home to rare wild birds, sparking objections from a national group of bird lovers.
Basketball and badminton may be staged at existing facilities well outside the eight-kilometre ring instead of venues to be built on a waterfront area near the Olympic village.
Masuzoe has been vague on whether a new 80,000-seat Olympic stadium.
The fund is supposed to be given by the national government -- would be part of the sweeping review.
A coalition of prominent architects and civil activists has charged that the stadium would be too big and expensive, and spoil the skyline.
The stadium’s cost is estimated at $1.6 bn, although critics say this figure will likely rise.