Tokyo Olympics venue tenders come under scrutiny
A research-team working for Tokyo’s Political Reform Headquarters (toukyoutou tosei kaikaku honbu), established by recently elected governor Yuriko Koike is proposing drastic review of three of the main Olympic venues. It is investigating the ballooning costs for preparations of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which had soared from about 154 billion JPY (1.3 EUR billion) at the time of their bid to an estimated 458 billion JPY (4.1 EUR billon) in September 2013. Since then the city had changed the original plans by decreasing the number of new venues to about 224 billion (1.9 EUR billion), but many believe that the costs will again increase further.
Governor Koike was elected on her promise to increase the transparency of the city’s finances and decision-making and in her first months in office has aggressively pursued a reform agenda.
With regard to three Olympic venues (Ariake Arena, Olympic Aquatics Centre and the Dream Island Canoeing venue), which were publicly tendered earlier this year, the focus is on the very high construction costs and the very small margins between the price estimated by the city and the winning contractor. All three tenders were won by joint ventures, each led by one of Japan’s giant general construction companies (zenecon). In the case of the Dream Island venue there was only one bidder, who won the tender with a 99.9% bid.
Some media have reported that costs were initially estimated at one-third of the later price, but that the city decided to increase the estimate price threefold after hearings with the construction sector. Company told the city that high material and labor costs would make construction impossible if the initial price was kept.
The research team has advised that a thorough revision is necessary, including halting construction, as there are issues with the costs, scale of the venues and use of the venues after the Games.