By Chris Gallagher
TOKYO (Reuters) – International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President John Coates praised efforts by Tokyo organizers to lower the budget for the 2020 Summer Games, saying cost control was important for attracting future bid cities.
Figures released last month showed organizers had trimmed budget estimates to 1.685 trillion yen ($15.7 billion) including contingencies, from 1.8 trillion yen in their initial budget unveiled in December.
Coates, speaking Wednesday at a meeting of the IOC Coordination Commission on its fourth visit to Tokyo, said the IOC was pleased with the reduction as well as organizers’ emphasis on reducing costs further.
“It is important to us that with these costs of the Games and the final analysis that become public, they are going to be a reason to attract candidate cities,” he said. “To attract them to bid, rather than to scare them off.”
In September last year, a Tokyo city government panel had warned that expenses could balloon to 3 trillion yen.
That would have been some four times the estimate Tokyo had made when it won the bidding in 2013, and prompted a worried IOC and local organizers to form a working group on cutting costs.
The IOC is worried soaring costs could scare off future bidders, after four cities dropped out of the 2024 race over such concerns.
“That is not only important to you, your taxpayers and the public, but it is very important to the IOC,” Coates said of reducing costs. “It’s for our own future that we’re doing it, just as much as you want to do it for your taxpayers.”
The latest budget figures also show a reduction in the amount of public money to be used. Meanwhile, the organizing committee has increased its portion – paid through sponsorship, IOC contributions and other private funds – to about 43 percent of the budget excluding contingencies.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)