Tokyo cuts ribbon on another Olympic venue -- Ariake Arena
TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo cut the ribbon on another new Olympic venue on Sunday, just under six months ahead of the games’ opening.
This time it was the Ariake Arena alongside Tokyo Bay, the venue for Olympic volleyball and wheelchair basketball at the Paralympics.
Only one new venue remains to be inaugurated. That’s the new swimming arena that will be ready in the next month.
Eight of the new permanent venues are being built by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The new $1.43 billion national stadium was opened late last year and is being built by an arm of the Japanese national government.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who is up for re-election this summer, led the ribbon-cutting. Officials say the $336 million venue will be used after the Olympics for concerts and sports events.
Koike, who was laudatory about the venue, was also asked about the coronavirus and its possible impact on the Tokyo Olympics. She read in Japanese from a prepared statement, but did not mention the Olympics by name in her reply.
There have been no deaths reported in Japan from the viral outbreak in China.
Koike speaks Arabic and English and well as Japanese, but her staff did not allow a question in English.
“During this weekend, Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials including a vice-governor and related section directors have been discussing how to prevent the infection from spreading and establish effective testing systems in order to protect Tokyo residents’ safety and security,” she said, speaking in Japanese.
She asked people to wear masks and wash their hands frequently.
Koike warned last week about the danger of the virus as she spoke in Japanese to the heads of 62 municipalities.
“We must firmly tackle the new coronavirus to contain it, or we are going regret it,” she said.
Tokyo organizers and the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee both issued statements on Friday aimed at quashing rumors the Olympics could be cancelled or postponed.
“We have never discussed cancelling the games,” Tokyo organizers said in a statement to The Associated Press.
The IOC said: “Preparations for Tokyo 2020 continue as planned.”
The Olympics open July 24 followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 25.
Tokyo says it’s spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, a national audit report says the number is twice that much. It’s all public money except $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget.
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