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

Lindsey Vonn and her dog to host Amazing Race-like series

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn and one of her three dogs, Lucy, will host “The Pack,” an “Amazing Race”-like series where dogs and their humans compete in challenges across continents.

The Amazon Prime show filmed earlier this year and will premiere later in 2020. Production included a team of veterinarians and dog experts to ensure “a positive experience for everyone.”

Twelve teams vie for a prize of $500,000, plus $250,000 for the animal charity of their choice.

Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion and female record holder with 82 World Cup wins, retired after the February 2019 World Championships, four shy of the overall victories record held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

She traveled the last few years of her career with Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she got in Italy in January 2016. Lucy required German, Italian and American passports to accompany Vonn on the ski circuit.

Vonn previously adopted rescue dogs Leo, a brindle boxer to help her through recovery from knee surgery that kept her out of the 2014 Olympics, and Bear.

Vonn’s previous broadcast credits included a 2010 appearance as a secretary on “Law & Order,” two judge spots on “Project Runway” and an episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” in 2016.

MORE: Lindsey Vonn’s mom is tough as nails

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London Marathon mass event canceled; Kipchoge, Bekele still to race

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The London Marathon will not hold a mass participation race of 40,000-plus runners, but will have an elites-only event featuring the fastest marathoners in history on a different course.

Organizers announced that the World Marathon Major, previously rescheduled for Oct. 4 from April 26, will be restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Elite runners, including world-record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei and Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest man in history, will instead race but not on the usual route around London landmarks.

They will run on an enclosed looped in St. James’s Park in a “secure biosphere” without spectator access. Elite wheelchair racers, including past champions David Weir and Manuela Schar, will also compete.

Before canceling, London Marathon organizers planned to use Bluetooth and wideband ranging to monitor every participant’s distance from each other, though they did not specify if the event would have still included more than 40,000 runners.

If a participant spent more than 15 minutes within a specified distance of anyone else, and if somebody had informed organizers they contracted the virus within two weeks after the race, he or she would have been contacted.

“Despite all our efforts, the fantastic support from all of our partners and the progress that has been made on planning for the return of smaller mass participation events that are not on the roads, it has not been possible to go ahead with a mass socially distanced walk or run,” event director Hugh Brasher said in press release.

Four of the other five annual World Marathon Majors this year were canceled — Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City. The earliest major, Tokyo, was held March 1 with elite runners only.

Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion from Kenya, and Bekele, a three-time Olympic track champion from Ethiopia, were previously announced as headliners for London in the winter, before the pandemic.

Kipchoge lowered the world record to 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Bekele clocked 2:01:41 in Berlin last September. They are the only men to ever break 2:02 in a marathon. Kipchoge also clocked 1:59:40 at a non-record-eligible event in Vienna on Oct. 12 instead of racing a fall marathon.

Kipchoge has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

Bekele, the more accomplished track athlete with Olympic golds and world records at 5000m and 10,000m, has been a roller-coaster road runner.

Bekele owns two of the seven fastest marathons in history, recorded three years apart in Berlin. In between, he failed to finish two marathons and, in his last London start in 2018, clocked a pedestrian 2:08:53 for sixth place.

That was more than four minutes behind Kipchoge, who is undefeated in four London starts and has beaten by Bekele by at least 100 seconds in all four of their head-to-head marathons.

The Kenyan Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

The 2021 London Marathon will also be held in October to give a better chance of holding a mass race than in April.

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