TOKYO -- Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Thursday that simplifying some aspects of the 2020 Summer Olympics is now under consideration, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has already caused the Games to be postponed for a year which has led to serious cost overruns.
"We will look closely at what should be rationalized and simplified," Koike told reporters. "We will work together with the government and the Tokyo Organizing Committee on this."
The Olympics, originally planned to start next month, are currently scheduled to be held beginning on July 23 next year, with the Paralympics following on August 24. The delay has caused estimated costs to balloon by about 300 billion yen ($2.75 billion), pushing Tokyo and the committee to consider ways to slash expenses through simplifying opening and closing ceremonies and limiting the number of dignitaries attending from overseas.
"We need empathy and understanding [to slim down the Games] from the citizens of Tokyo and people in Japan," Koike said, adding that Tokyo is holding regular meetings with the Japanese government and the committee.
While Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed there has been no decision taken between the government and the committee regarding the Games, he said that he has heard that there was an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Organizing Committee on April 16 over optimizing the level of service as well some rationalization.
"We will make preparations based on close collaboration with the IOC, the committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to make the Games safe for athletes and spectators," Suga said.
Suga also said that there has been no condition stipulating that the Games will only be held if a vaccine is developed.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed that he wants Japan to hold the Games in a "safe way."
The Tokyo government and Organizing Committee in December announced a budget plan for the cost of holding of the Olympics totaling 1.35 trillion yen. But given the extra expenses associated with the postponement, such as venue rental costs, they have begun working on revamping the entire operational plan.