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IOC urges Tokyo to set budget soon to cut costs further

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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike poses with Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics emblems after an interview with Reuters at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike poses with Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics emblems after an interview with Reuters at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has called on Tokyo to show a sense of urgency about finalising its budget for the 2020 Summer Games, noting that costs will continue to increase the longer it takes

At an open meeting for a four-party working group that includes the IOC on Tuesday, Tokyo 2020 organisers vowed to keep costs below $20 billion but the Olympic authority felt even that amount was too high.

A budget review by Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, who took office in July, said costs could surge to more than 3 trillion yen ($26.36 billion), more than four times initial estimates made when Tokyo won hosting rights.

IOC Vice President John Coates, in Tokyo for a meeting of Olympic planners and the working group meeting, told a news conference that there were ways that Tokyo, hosting the Summer Games for a second time, could pare costs even further.

"The IOC just isn't going to sign off on a budget that we think exceeds what's needed for the cost of the games," he said.

Tokyo is an expensive city in terms of rental for existing venues and other costs, but he said there were still savings to be made... and the sooner decisions were made, the better.

"There can be significant savings made in security and many other areas if the procurement starts earlier," he added. "The longer you leave entering into contracts, the more expensive the contracts are going to be."

Tokyo organisers said this week they would draw up a final budget by the end of the year.

Coates said the two days of talks that ended on Friday also decided venues for the five new sports to be added to the programme from 2020, with baseball and softball to take place mainly in the neighbouring city of Yokohama.

Of the others, Karate will be held in the venerable Budokan, built for the 1964 Summer Olympics in the Japanese capital and the setting for numerous iconic concerts since.

He added that "continuing good progress" had been made in the preparations.

Games organisers have run into a series of broken promises and problems in their preparations, including scrapping the original design for the centrepiece National Stadium as well as the first logo after allegations that it was plagiarised.

Work finally began on the stadium this week, more than a year behind schedule.

($1 = 113.8200 yen)

(Reporting by Elaine Lies)


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