International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today urged Japanese leaders to resolve issues surrounding the new National Stadium that will form the centrepiece of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as officials unveiled further venue changes expected to bring overall savings to $1.7 billion (£1.1 billion/€1.5 bllion)
Bach used the occasion of the latest progress report by Tokyo 2020 to the IOC’s Executive Board in Lausanne to express concerns that continued adverse media reports might cast a shadow over preparations for the Games.
Delays and rising costs have led to reports that the planned retractable roof might not be installed until after the Games, and even that the stadium might not be ready in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Addressing the media after making their report, Yoshirō Mori, Tokyo 2020 President, and Toshirō Mutō, the chief executive, set out a new series of venue changes affecting seven sports.
As previously reported by insidethegames, badminton is to move to the Musashino Forest Sport Centre, while water polo will now be staged at the Tatsumi International Swimming Centre.
Fencing, taekwondo and wrestling, the three sports displaced from the Tokyo Big Sight halls as a consequence of a reconfiguration to the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC), will now be staged at the Makuhari Messe convention centre in Chiba.
With the scrapping of plans to build a new Olympic sailing marina next to Tokyo Gate Bridge in Tokyo Bay, sailing will now take place at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour, the location used for the 1964 Olympic sailing event.
Finally, rugby sevens will move out of the National Stadium to Tokyo Stadium, in a move attributed to an expansion of the time allotted to the sport from two to six days of competition.
While asserting that the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reform programme had provided “a welcome tailwind” driving the Japanese capital to the successful delivery of the 2020 Games, Japanese officials also confirmed that no acceptable solution had yet been agreed for cycling.
Muto told journalists that those concerned would keep “working closely together” and were continuing to have discussions.
“What we are proposing is quite close to the spirit in Agenda 2020,” Muto said.
International Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson has described the proposal to move track, mountain biking and BMX venues around 150 kilometres away from Tokyo to the city of Izu as something they are “not happy” about.
He has conceded however, that he would be prepared to accept the velodrome switch, so long as the proposed venue undergoes renovation to substantially increase its capacity from current attendance levels of 1,500.
The Tokyo 2020 leaders stated that the aim was now to find an acceptable solution for the sport in time for the next IOC Executive Board meeting in Kuala Lumpur next month.
At a media conference following the Executive Board, Bach said the additional savings had been achieved “by having a more intelligent way of using facilities following Olympic Agenda 2020, that means making more use of existing facilities by allocating different sports into joint venues wherever possible”.
“We are quite confident that there still may be some room for a little bit more [savings].”
On the National Stadium, he said: “We have been advised that this is first of all an issue for the National Government to deal with, not the Organising Committee.
“But I think we were also very clear that we asked the Organising Committee to convey to the Government that we think this issue should be solved as soon as possible – because Tokyo has so much positive news.”
June 2015: Exclusive: Cycling venues still not agreed as revised Tokyo 2020 blueprint nears completion
April 2015:Exclusive: Plans for new Tokyo 2020 sailing marina scrapped
April 2015: Exclusive: Moving events out of Tokyo could ruin Olympic experience for cyclists, fears Cookson
February 2015: Tokyo 2020 set to save $1 billion as venues moved
January 2015: Government study underway to reassess Tokyo 2020 legacy aims