Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has confirmed a plan to build a new pool to host the 2020 Olympic Games, though at a significant discount. As part of an effort she initiated when she became Tokyo’s first female governor earlier this year, a committee she established has found ¥6.5 billion ($55.1 million) in savings across three venues.
The cost of the aquatics venue will drop from ¥49.1 billion to ¥29.8 billion, which is a savings of ¥19.3 billion ($163 million).
No further details were confirmed about the ambitious stadium, which was set to have 20,000 seats in original plans.
The effort was part of an overall ¥40 billion ($339 million) savings in the construction costs of three venues after scrutinizing both construction and operating costs of the aquatics, volleyball, and canoeing venues.
The cost of the volleyball venue will drop from ¥40.4 billion to ¥33.9 billion ($288 million); the cost of the aquatics venue will drop from ¥49.1 billion to ¥29.8 billion ($250 million), and the cost of the canoeing venue will fall from ¥68.3 billion to around ¥52 billion ($440 million).
By comparison, the renovation to the 60-year old Maracnazinho used for volleyball in Rio cost just under $30 million and the temporary Rio Olympic Aquatics Center cost $38 million. We were unable to find final costs for the Deodoro Olympic Whitewater Stadium, but pre-games estimates put it at around $20 million.
Koike credited upgrade in technology as part of the reason for the cost savings, and even hinted that geothermal energy could be used to achieve greater savings.
The proposal was put forth by a cost-cutting panel set up by Koiske in September specifically to review ways to reign-in costs. A prior proposal had been put forth to use the existing Tatsumi International Swimming Center, built in 1993, for aquatics competition. That arena seats only 3,635, which would be too small for swimming at the Olympics.
The IOC has urged Koike and the organizing committee to bring the cost of hosting the 2020 Games down from a ¥2 trillion ($16 billion) peak estimated by the organizing committee earlier this year. That estimate was 2.5 times the initial estimate of ¥734 billion ($6.2 billion) submitted in 2013. The Rio Olympics are estimated to have cost around $12 billion and the London Olympics four years earlier are estimated to have cost $14.6 billion.
The 2008 Olympics in Beijing are estimated to have cost $40 billion and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are estimated to have cost $50 billion, though those events are aberrations even among a trend of escalating Olympic costs.