A Tokyo metropolitan government panel reviewing costly Olympic venues has proposed downgrading the expensive rowing and canoeing site for the Tokyo Games to temporary quality or moving the events to an existing site in northern Japan.
The city-commissioned panel of outside experts, in a report submitted to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Tuesday, said a downgrade could decrease the estimated construction and operational cost of the Sea Forest venue from an original 70 billion yen ($700 million) to about 30 billion yen ($300 million).
Alternatively, using the existing facility in Miyagi would require investing an estimated 35 billion yen ($350 million) to meet Olympic standards.
Koike will discuss the report with officials from the International Olympic Committee and other parties later Tuesday.
The panel of academics and business consultants that the governor set up has said the cost of the Olympics could exceed $30 billion – four times the initial estimate – unless drastic cuts are made.
The panel came up with an option of moving rowing and canoeing to Naganuma, about 250 miles (400 kilometres) north of Tokyo, after the projected cost for a new venue in Tokyo Bay soared to $490 million, seven times the initial estimate. The Naganuma site is part of the area still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Panel chief Shinichi Ueyama said it is the only realistic alternative to the Sea Forest considering the additional construction work and other preparations which would be required.
The report said that the total cost for the current Sea Forest site could be around 33 billion yen to 45 billion yen ($330 million to $450 million) if redesigned for largely temporary use.
The city panel also proposed options of moving two other sports – volleyball and swimming – from planned new venues to existing ones.