Tokyo 2020 Olympic Aquatics Centre
Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Tokyo 2020 Olympic swimming venue stays, but volleyball could move

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TOKYO (AP) — 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.

At Tuesday’s four-party talks, Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto proposed putting a 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) cap on total Olympic costs. A final budget has yet to be released.

IOC vice president John Coates, who heads the international body’s coordination commission for Tokyo, said the ceiling was too high.

“The IOC has not agreed to that amount of money,” Coates told reporters.

“We believe the cost can be significantly lower than that,” he added, citing “high figures” on the rent. “We can make some savings on those figures.”

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. Koike had pushed for the Naganuma facility, which is in the area still recovering from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as a symbol of reconstruction, which she says gives significance to holding the Olympics in Japan in 2020.

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

Koike 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 — a delay the group accepted.

Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games, said a venue change would require a lot of work and would be “ambitious,” hinting the likelihood of volleyball also staying in Tokyo.

Cost estimates at a number of venues have surged since Tokyo was awarded the games in 2013, in part due to rising construction costs related to disaster reconstruction.

Koike repeatedly cited the IOC’s “Agenda 2020” reforms that seek sustainable Olympics and encourage the use of existing venues, not just in Japan but universally, saying her effort is fully in line with them. Concerns over costs have discouraged some cities from bidding.

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IOC president wants life bans for Russian cheats

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 16: IOC President Thomas Bach closing remarks during the fourth day of the 21st ANOC General Assembly at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on November 16, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images for ANOC)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russian athletes and officials who are proven to have been part of a doping “manipulation system” should be banned for life from the Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach said Thursday.

Bach gave his personal view one day before Canadian investigator Richard McLaren publishes a final report into alleged state-backed cheating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Proof of systematic doping would be “aggravated circumstances” to justify life bans, the IOC leader said at a news conference after a three-day executive board meeting.

“I would not like to see this person again at any Olympic Games in any function,” Bach said, noting that as an IOC disciplinary commission chairman he approved life bans for Austrian team members implicated in doping at the 2006 Turin Winter Games.

However, proving that individual athletes knew of systematic doping involving state agencies could be difficult.

McLaren, who was appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency in May, is expected to give more detail about cheating operations at the Sochi laboratory.

In his interim report in July, McLaren confirmed claims by former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov of a hole-in-the-wall swapping system aided by the FSB security agency to exchange athletes’ dirty urine samples for clean ones.

Earlier Thursday, the IOC member appointed to oversee disciplinary cases that arise from McLaren’s evidence acknowledged they could be tough to prove.

“Can you prove (athletes) were aware?” Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer, said on the sidelines of a sports law conference in Geneva.

“It is not that we would be scared to attack high level people in the Russian regime,” the Swiss lawyer said. “The question is more on the legal point of view. Can you punish athletes if they have done nothing and whether they were not aware of what was happening?”

Bach has also appointed a second IOC commission, headed by former Switzerland president Samuel Schmid, to evaluate if McLaren’s report and evidence proves a state-run doping system.

“And then based on that we will see if we can start cases against athletes,” Oswald said.

Meanwhile, United States lawmakers want Bach to attend a congressional committee hearing next Thursday to provide an update on sports’ fight against doping.

“Unfortunately I cannot attend there,” said Bach, adding that the IOC will “provide by other means all the information they may need.”

MORE: Russia sets 2018 Olympics medal target

IOC president doesn’t rule out awarding 2028 Olympic host in 2017

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23: The Olympic Flag waves as part of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach says he wants to change the Olympic host city bidding procedure because it “produces too many losers.”

Bach’s comments came on the same day the IOC executive board cleared all three candidate cities for the 2024 Olympics — Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary — to advance to the next stage of the race.

Bach did not categorically rule out the possibility of awarding the hosting rights for two games at once — 2024 and 2028 — when the IOC votes next September in Lima, Peru.

Bach said at a news conference “it is not the purpose of an Olympic candidature procedure to produce losers.”

He said the goal is “to produce the best possible host for an Olympic Games.”

Asked about speculation the IOC could award the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same time, he said: “Let us study this question, which is not an easy one.”

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