Tokyo 2020 officials and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike held separate meetings with the Miyagi Governor today ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 organisers have warned that moving rowing and canoe sprint 400 kilometres out of the city risks increasing rather than reducing costs during a meeting with the Governor of Miyagi Prefecture today.

Abandoning plans to develop a new course in Tokyo Bay in favour of the existing Naganuma one in the Miyagi city of Tome was among changes recommended in a report commissioned by new Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, published late last month.

It was claimed that the budget could expand to ¥3 trillion (£22 billion/$30 billion/€26 billion), four times its initial value, unless drastic changes are made.

Such a move has been opposed by the Organising Committee and the wider sports movement, however, on the grounds that it will harm the athlete experience and affect a venue which has already been approved by both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and world governing bodies for rowing and canoeing.

It is possible a compromise solution could involve using the Toda Rowing Course in neighbouring Saitama Prefecture at which rowing competitions at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games were held.

Tokyo 2020 chief operating officer Yukihiko Nunomura and Executive Board member, Toshiaki Endo, met with Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai today in Tokyo ahead of a similar meeting between Murai and Koike.

Rowing is currently due to take place at the Sea Forest venue but Tokyo 2020 may move it 400 kilometres away to help keep the budget down ©Tokyo 2020
Rowing is currently due to take place at the Sea Forest venue but Tokyo 2020 may move it 400 kilometres away to help keep the budget down ©Tokyo 2020

"According to the documents provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) panel, the cost of building the Naganuma facilities is estimated at ¥35 billion (£275 million, $337 million/€305 million)," organisers said in a document circulated during the meeting, and sent to insidethegames afterwards.

"At first glance, this seems less than the estimated cost of Sea Forest Waterway, which is ¥52 billion (£400 million/$500 million/€450 million) according to the TMG panel’s estimate. 

"However, some additional costs are not included in the ¥35 billion, such as the cost of operating the satellite Athletes’ Village, renovations of the facilities in order to make them barrier-free, transportation, upgrading of the power supply, telecommunications and lodging.

"Meanwhile, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has fully committed to cost reduction measures for the Sea Forest Waterway.

"The final construction cost for the Sea Forest Waterway is likely be lower after all."

Other concerns included having "adequate infrastructure necessary" to support the satellite Athletes' Village, which would need to accommodate more than 1,300 people during the Olympic Games and more than 250 during the subsequent Paralympics.

Current plans are for temporary facilities built following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

A 900-seat dining hall is among facilities they demand along with a "training gym, conference rooms, medical care facilities, as well as multi-language support and courier delivery services".

Holding rowing and canoe sprint at the Toda course used in 1964 has been proposed as a compromise solution ©Flickr
Holding rowing and canoe sprint at the Toda course used in 1964 has been proposed as a compromise solution ©Flickr

Transportation infrastructure is highlighted as another problem due to the 85 kilometres distance between the proposed Village and the venue.

The rowing course also contains too many slopes, it is claimed, with limited flat space for vital elements such as boat storage, spectator stands, parking lots and broadcast compounds.

An "under-developed power supply and telecommunications infrastructure" is another issue, along with a "lack of accommodation facilities for spectators and support staff".

The move "may also impose an unnecessary burden on athletes", due to long-distance travel and their alienation from the rest of the Games, while there would also be less of a legacy impact than under initial plans.

If Koike ultimately approves the change, however, there appears little the Organising Committee can do.

She is expected to visit the proposed facility on Saturday (October 15), three days before a proposed meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach. 

Holding competition at the Toda course has been proposed today as a solution by the Japan Canoe Federation if the Sea Forest plan is scrapped, Kyodo News has reported.

insidethegames understands, however, that the rowing community would oppose such a plan because the course would be too narrow for necessary support infrastructure needed for a modern-day competition.

It is not yet clear if this was raised as a possibility during today's meeting.

The International Rowing Federation insist the Sea Forest course remains their preferred choice as it is the "only venue in Japan which can meet the requirements for an Olympic Games regatta".

insidethegames has contacted Tokyo 2020 for a reaction.