Sat, Jun 03, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Costs to host 2020 Olympics doubles initial estimates


Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee chairperson Ryohei Miyata, right, and Japanese baseball great Sadaharu Oh hold the logos of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics at a ceremony in Tokyo on April 25 last year.

Photo: AP

Taxpayers beware: The cost of hosting an Olympics is likely to be far more than advertised.

The price tag on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has ballooned to nearly twice the initial estimate, even after a major cost-cutting effort.

A major reason is that cities exclude large amounts of associated costs when they submit a bid to host the Olympics.

“Those numbers in the bidding file are almost fiction,” said Shinichi Ueyama, a Japanese public policy expert who led a Tokyo government investigation into the Olympics’ cost.

The bid figures include only the core components, such as the main facilities, so that the bids are easier to compare.

Building design, security measures, transportation and other costs are largely excluded.

It is common practice, but taxpayers might not be aware that the bid figures are incomplete and the actual cost will end up far higher.

Tokyo 2020 organizers said this week that the estimated cost is now ¥1.4 trillion (US$12.6 billion). When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in September 2013, the total was ¥730 billion.

“Many advanced nations are now increasingly aware of the pattern and staying away from the Olympics,” said Ueyama, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo. “If you take a survey in any democratic country, people would refuse to have their tax money spent on costly sports events.”

Rising construction costs in Japan also contributed to the increase in costs for Tokyo, as well as the addition of five new sports after Tokyo won the bid. Much of the increase, though, was for non-construction costs.

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