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Tokyo Governor Plans to Tweak Olympic Venue Plan Amid Cost Surge

Tokyo will revise its plans for venues to host the 2020 Olympics after completing a review that takes into account rising construction costs and potential future uses for the structures, Governor Yoichi Masuzoe said.

The city is being forced to revisit its plan for 10 new sports venues as labor and material costs soar due to reconstruction work after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Masuzoe also questioned the practicality of building new sports facilities that may find little use after the games are held.

“We will conduct a review immediately from such perspectives and then appropriately and promptly revise what needs to be revised so that our preparations for the games are not hindered,” Masuzoe told reporters today in Tokyo.

The cost to build the basketball courts, kayaking marinas and other venues has more than doubled to 360 billion yen ($3.5 billion) from the 153.8 billion yen estimated when Japan bid for the Olympics, the Nikkei newspaper reported last month.

Masuzoe acknowledged that the need to keep those costs from ballooning could force Tokyo to rely on farther-flung existing venues, despite the city’s promise in its original bid to provide a “compact” Olympics, with all competitions held within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of the planned Olympic Village.

Still, the governor said transit planning will allow venues as far as 50 kilometers away to be accessed within 30 minutes and it was most important for the games to remain financially feasible. He said the International Olympic Committee agreed with his reasoning, since it understands few cities would bid to host future games if they know they’ll be financially ruinous.

“Cost should be ‘compact,’” he said. “This should not be forgotten.”

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