Olympic officials say rowing, swim venues will stay in Tokyo

TOKYO — Olympic organizers agreed Tuesday to keep the rowing, canoe sprint and swimming venues at their planned sites in Tokyo for the 2020 Games, while postponing a decision until Christmas on a possible switch for volleyball.

Representatives of the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo organizers and Japan's central and city governments have been discussing ways of reducing costs, including possibly moving three sports from planned new venues to existing ones.

The group was established in October after a Tokyo government panel said the Olympics cost could exceed 3 trillion yen ($27 billion) unless drastic cuts were made.

The Tokyo panel had initially proposed moving the rowing and canoe sprint venue, currently planned at the Sea Forest in Tokyo, to Miyagi prefecture, 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Tokyo, after its cost estimate soared to nearly 50 billion yen ($450 million). A new feasibility study shows the cost could come down to around 30 billion yen ($270 million).

"Considering the cost, location and various other factors, we have decided to hold (the rowing and canoeing) at the planned Sea Forest site," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said.

Koike proposed using the Naganuma boat facility, which she had considered as an option, as a training facility ahead of the Tokyo Games.

A new swimming facility at its planned location in eastern Tokyo will have seating capacity reduced from 20,000 to 15,000, saving 14 billion yen ($125 million).

Koike, however, said she still needs time to decide whether to move indoor volleyball to Yokohama Arena instead of building a new arena in Tokyo's coastal Ariake district. She said the estimated 40 billion yen ($360 million) cost of the Tokyo venue is "still very high," promising a decision by Christmas.

At Tuesday's four-party talks, Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto proposed putting a 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) cap on the total Olympic cost, whose estimate has yet to be released.

IOC vice president John Coates, who heads the international body's coordination commission for Tokyo, said he was still not fully satisfied with the number.

"We believe the cost can be significantly lower than that," he told reporters after the meeting, citing "high figures" on the rent. "We can make some savings on those figures."

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