Tokyo 2020 Olympic cost estimate released

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TOKYO (AP) — Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics estimate the total cost of hosting the 2020 Games will be between 1.6 and 1.8 trillion yen ($13-$15 billion).

The official cost estimate announced Wednesday was below the promised 2 trillion ($17 billion) cap, while organizers said they will try to come down further.

“This is Version 1,” said Toshiro Muto, chief executive officer of the organizing committee. “We will continue our cost-cutting effort toward our Version 2.”

Details of cost-sharing among the three parties — the organizing committee, Tokyo and central governments — can be now worked out, Muto said.

The cost estimate includes 590 billion yen ($5.5 billion) to build permanent and temporary venues and other facilities, and 410 billion yen ($3.8 billion) for “soft” costs such as transportation, security and other operational expenses. It takes into account 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) of revenue from sponsorship, ticket sales, licensing and IOC contributions.

It also calls for a backup budget of 100-300 billion yen ($1-$2.8 billion) to cover “contingency” costs such as possible anti-heat measures that may be needed to cope with Tokyo’s hot weather, officials said.

International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates had criticized the $17 billion cap as too high. Coates, via a videoconference link from Australia, joined chief organizer Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa for Wednesday’s announcement.

Coates praised their effort and said he was “very, very pleased” with the outcome, which is a substantial reduction from an earlier prediction. He noted the taxpayer money would be from 1.1 to 1.3 trillion yen ($10.3-$12.1 billion) and that the total cost also includes “considerable legacy.”

While Coates would not give a numerical target, he said more details are needed in areas such as transport, security and games operations for further cost reduction.

“We need to do more work there. But the feeling we have is that there are savings to be found there,” he said.

Tokyo’s Olympic costs have soared amid Japan’s reconstruction from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the year the city launched its bid for the Games. Tokyo secured the Games in 2013. The trend in the construction industry is expected to continue until the Games, officials said.

A Tokyo government panel has warned the eventual total cost could exceed $30 billion — four times the initial estimate — without drastic cuts. The outspoken governor, Koike, has spearheaded a cost-cutting effort, proposing a review of three costly venues.

The IOC is facing pressure to reduce costs to help entice cities to bid for future Games. The $51 billion price tag associated with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, led numerous cities to drop out of bidding for the 2022 and 2024 Olympics. The IOC is encouraging cities to make maximum use of existing and temporary facilities.

Koike has agreed to keep all three venues — for rowing and canoe sprint, swimming and volleyball — at their planned sites in Tokyo, rather than moving them outside the capital. Yet, she said the review led to a 40 billion yen ($340 million) savings and that she is seeing further reductions in line with IOC policy.

“I hope this will be a wisely-spent, sustainable event,” she said.

MORE: IOC ‘pushing’ for MLB players at Tokyo 2020

 

Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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