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.

MORE: Some 2020 Olympic baseball, softball games set 150 miles from Tokyo

Kerri Walsh Jennings pleased by result after longest break in 5 years

Kerri Walsh Jennings
FIVB World Tour
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Kerri Walsh Jennings returned from her longest competition break since 2013 and, with partner Nicole Branagh, nearly beat the world’s top-ranked team.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh ultimately were eliminated in the round of 16 at the Xiamen Open in China.

“We WILL do better,” was posted on Walsh Jennings’ social media. “We actually had a great showing and learned and battled and improved – sometimes the stats don’t show everything.”

Walsh Jennings and Branagh, a pair of 39-year-old moms, played together for the first time since July 22, when Walsh Jennings’ five-times surgically repaired right shoulder popped out mid-match.

Walsh Jennings, eyeing her sixth and final Olympics in 2020, underwent a sixth shoulder surgery and an ankle surgery and did not return to training on the beach until March (her longest break between hitting a ball on sand since switching from indoor following the 2000 Olympics).

The duo won their opening Xiamen match in three sets last week, then lost a three-setter to the world’s No. 1 team in group play. Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes prevailed 21-15, 22-24, 18-16 en route to the tournament title.

After Walsh Jennings and Branagh swept American qualifiers Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman in the first elimination round, they squandered a one-set lead in the round of 16. Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy eliminated them 19-21, 21-16, 20-18.

Walsh Jennings said before flying to Xiamen that she and Branagh would next play on the FIVB World Tour at the Itapema Open in Brazil in mid-May. In four FIVB World Tour events since partnering last year, they were eliminated in qualifying once, bounced in the round of 16 twice and forfeited a bronze-medal match due to that shoulder dislocation.

Early season partner changes defined the U.S. women’s landscape. In Xiamen, one of those new teams, Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar, reached the final, losing to the Canadians.

It marked the first final four appearance on the senior FIVB World Tour for the 22-year-old Claes, an NCAA champion at USC with former partner Sara Hughes, and for the 36-year-old Hochevar, the older sister of former Kansas City Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar.

MORE: Walsh Jennings documents comeback from surgeries

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Watch Dateline special on McKayla Maroney, Larry Nassar; full episode

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McKayla MaroneyAly Raisman and Martha and Bela Karolyi spoke about their experiences with Larry Nassar in “Silent No More,” an NBC News’ DATELINE special that aired Sunday night.

It marked Maroney’s first interview since she went public as one of the hundreds of survivors who said they were sexually abused by Nassar, a team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University for two decades.

The Karolyis, both former U.S. women’s national team coordinators, spoke on camera for the first time regarding Nassar, too. Olympians said they were abused at the Karolyis’ ranch in Texas at national team training camps.

Maroney said that at 2011 Worlds in Tokyo she told John Geddert, the personal coach of teammate Jordyn Wieber and head coach for the U.S. team at the event, that Nassar abused her.

NBC News reported that three other people in the car at the time remembered Maroney’s account from seven years ago. Geddert did not respond to requests for comment.

Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics in January and is facing a criminal investigation after Nassar, who molested girls at Geddert’s gym in Michigan, was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison on Jan. 24. Geddert said he had “zero knowledge” of Nassar’s crimes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Karolyis deny knowledge of Nassar crimes | Maroney’s first speech on Nassar