IOC weighs Tokyo 2020 Olympic venue changes
TOKYO (AP) — The IOC wrapped up its first coordination commission meeting for the Tokyo 2020 Games on Friday, saying proposed changes to the venue plan are not as drastic as some have suggested.
Cost concerns have prompted Japanese Olympic organizers to review their initial plan of having the majority of venues within an 8-kilometer (5-mile) radius of the Athletes’ Village venue.
Japanese media reported that some sports would be moved to Saitama, a prefecture about an hour north of Tokyo, but the IOC stated that was not discussed.
″″We are not thinking about a change of venue to a venue in Saitama,” IOC Vice President John Coates said. “Nothing has been put to us in that regard. We are having a general discussion at the moment. Yes, it was an important factor for all of us, the compactness of the games.”
The IOC, under new President Thomas Bach, is looking at ways of reducing the costs of hosting future Olympics. Several cities declined to bid or have dropped out of the race for the 2022 Winter Games because of financial concerns.
Tokyo’s centralization plan had been cited as a major factor in winning the 2020 hosting rights.
Coates said the only specific venue changed that was discussed was the location of the canoe slalom event which raised environmental concerns.
“Our advice was, well, if there’s that opposition, look for another site.” Coates said. “And they have identified another site on the same island quite proximate and the stage we’re at now is we’ve recommended that there’ll be discussions with the International Federation.”
Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, won the right to host the 2020 Games last September with a plan emphasizing the city’s safety and advanced infrastructure. Of the 33 competition venues, 28 will be within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of the Olympic Village, which will be built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay.
Coates added that any venue changes cannot be made unilaterally by games organizers but must also be approved by the bodies which run the individual sports.
“There will be no changes unless there is full sign-off from the international federations,” Coates said.