Olympic officials reassure sports federations about cuts
TOKYO (AP) — An Olympic official made a guarantee Thursday that will please the heads of world sports federations who are concerned that Tokyo Games organizers might be cutting things they see as “decoration” but federations view as “essential.”
Many federations fear what happened at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics , where bankrupt organizers began slashing everywhere a few months before the opening ceremony. They spoke out several weeks ago in meetings in Australia, with one federation head saying she feared the “cheap” look from Rio.
“The expectations are extremely high and what we have to do now is make sure we can deliver,” Christophe Dubi, the executive director of the Olympic Games, said after International Olympic Committee officials wrapped up a three-day inspection tour in Tokyo.
“Anything that has to do with the experience, starting with the athletes, will be top notch. It’s guaranteed,” Dubi said.
Tokyo is trying to contain its $5.6 billion operating budget, the money needed for running the games themselves. It’s the largest operating budget of any recent Olympics and is bolstered by a record $3 billion in local sponsorship sales.
The budget is supported by an added $15 billion from the national government and local governments, money going to build venues and ready the city when the Olympics open in just over 14 months.
John Coates, who heads the IOC inspection team, said items that worried federations could be handled for ”$10-20 million.” He called them areas dealing with “the look of the games” and “sports presentation.”
“So far as the areas criticized in Australia by the international federations, we’ve certainly at an executive level had assurances from the organizing committee that they acknowledge the importance of the look of the games. They’ve taken note of the criticism.”
Coates has said that by using more temporary and existing venues, Tokyo has saved billions from earlier plans that called for building more new venues. But the cost of preparing the existing venues — called overlay — is not cheap. And it’s absorbed by the organizing committee budget and not by governments, which are picking up much of the cost of building new venues.
“No matter what sponsorship revenues come in at, there is no way they can cover more than a fraction of the billions in infrastructure Tokyo is building,” Victor Matheson, who studies sports economics at the College of the Holy Cross, said in an email to The Associated Press.
Coates said a report detailing alleged labor abuse — primarily in building the national stadium and Olympic Village — had been received by IOC President Thomas Bach.
The report by the Building and Wood Workers’ International is titled “The Dark Side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.”
“We take these issues very seriously and are committed to working with the relevant stakeholders to address them and find the appropriate solutions,” Coates said, adding organizers were working with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japan Sport Council, the two bodies that came in for much of the criticism.
The city is building the Olympic Village and the JSC, a national government body, is building the stadium.
Tokyo officials are also waiting for more direction about how to run boxing at the Olympics.
On Wednesday in a meeting in Switzerland, the IOC said it would ban boxing body AIBA from running Olympic boxing. That decision is expected to be approved on June 24-26 at a meeting of the full IOC membership.
Tokyo officials said they will hold off on ticket sales and other details until the approval next month.
Japanese IOC member Morinari Watanabe, who also heads the International Gymnastics Federation, has been appointed to organize the boxing event.
AIBA has been under investigation by the IOC for its finances, governance and the fairness and integrity of its judging and refereeing. AIBA can challenge any final decision by IOC members at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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