June 21, 2014 4:59 am JST

Tokyo faces tough decisions on revising Olympics venue plans

TOKYO -- Facing rising construction costs, the city of Tokyo has begun revising its plans for the 2020 Summer Olympics venues.

     Ideas have been floated to jettison or change three of the 10 planned new permanent facilities. And the Japanese capital may need to rethink the concept of a compact Olympics, with all main venues within 8km of the Olympic Village.

     Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe told the Tokyo metropolitan assembly on June 10 of the need to rework the plans. And at a regular briefing Friday, he said that he will hold serious discussions with the assembly and the Olympic organizing committee to thrash out as many details as possible before the International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission visits next Wednesday.

     The central government will cover the cost of rebuilding the National Stadium, which will serve as the main venue. But the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will shoulder the cost of building the 10 new permanent facilities and renovating two existing venues.

     When Japan bid for the Olympics, the new facilities were estimated to cost 153.8 billion yen ($1.49 billion). But the cost for materials and labor has risen so high in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that a recalculation puts the price tag at around 380 billion yen. There are worries that facility construction alone could eat through the roughly 410 billion yen set aside for the games.

     To cut costs, one idea is to halt construction of the Yumenoshima Youth Plaza Arena, which was to host basketball and badminton, and hold those events in existing facilities. That could save 36.4 billion yen.

     Other proposals include changes to the two venues for canoeing and kayaking. To curb escalating costs at the venue for sprint events, a different construction method may be used to build the aquatic locks. And the venue for slalom events may be moved to a nearby location due to concerns about environmental impact.