Tokyo prepares for 2020, facing rising costs and new sports

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 23 (AP) Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is preparing for a strenuous workout with the next Summer Olympics headed her way.

The practice started when she received the Olympic flag Sunday in the official handover ceremony from her Rio counterpart, Mayor Eduardo Paes.

"I hope the flag is not too heavy," she joked the day before. "Although I have trained my muscles to receive it properly."

The next three Olympics are in Asian countries that have already held games: Tokyo's Summer Games in 2020, sandwiched between Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018 and in Beijing in 2022.

This will come as a relief to the International Olympic Committee after two trying games in Sochi, Russia, and Rio. 

That doesn't mean they'll be easy, particularly for Tokyo.

"I don't think that you can ever relax," said John Coates, the IOC member who heads the inspection team for Tokyo. "There are some big issues, even for Tokyo."

Here's a look at some of them. 


The new national stadium is an example of Tokyo's rising costs -- or underestimating costs. The original bill was expected to be USD 1 billion, but the price soared to three times that much in a design by the late architect Zaha Hadid.

Organizers scrapped that design and adopted a new one by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The cost will still be at least 50 percent more than the original estimate with completion set for November, 2019.

"I will not leave white elephants for the taxpayers," Kioke told reporters in Rio, just weeks after being elected Tokyo's first female governor. "The citizens of Tokyo are the taxpayers. We must have the understanding of the taxpayers about whatever we do."

Costs are rising elsewhere, too.

The Tokyo organizing committee's operating budget was 350 billion yen ($3.5 billion) in the original bid document. But officials say it will be revised upward to account for inflation and unexpected costs.

This is the budget for running the games themselves, and does not include building roads and other infrastructure. 

Tokyo organizers say 50 percent of the venues already exist, though they have not made public the cost for building new venues and preparing the city.

Constructing scaled-down venues -- following Rio's model -- could still be costly in Japan. The buildings must be earthquake-proof, and Japanese taste might not accept stripped-down architecture.