IOC Confident Tokyo Can Resolve Complaints Over Budget Cuts

IOC confident Tokyo Olympics can resolve complaints for sports federations over budget cuts.

By Associated Press, Wire Service Content?May 21, 2019
By Associated Press, Wire Service Content?May 21, 2019, at 8:18 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

IOC Confident Tokyo Can Resolve Complaints Over Budget Cuts

The Associated Press

John Coates, left, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Tokyo Olympic organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori, right, pause prior to the IOC Coordination Commission opening plenary session of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in Tokyo Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) The Associated Press


TOKYO (AP) — The heads of some international sports federations complained this month that Tokyo Olympic organizers were cutting too deeply to save money.

One said the cost reductions could make venues look cheap, reminding of deep, last-minute budget slashing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

John Coates, the IOC member who heads an inspection team that toured venues being built for the Tokyo Olympics, said Tuesday he was confident the problems will be solved.

"There were some issues identified recently," Coates said, speaking to open three days of meetings. "We think that you've been working them through. We're confident that you will be able to address them. They'll be the subject of more discussion."

Local organizers and the International Olympic Committee face a full agenda that includes labor issues, rising costs, worries about summer heat when the games open in less than 15 months, transportation and complaints about cost cutting from international sports federations.

Issued last week, a report titled "The Dark Side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics," focused on alleged labor abuse at the new national stadium and the Olympic village, the two centerpiece venues.

With an aging and declining population, Japan is shorthanded in many industries. The government has provided more visas for construction workers tied to the Olympics, and in April started allowing more foreign workers to reside in the country.

Ambet Yuson, general secretary of Building and Wood Workers' International based in Geneva, said the critical report had been sent to IOC President Thomas Bach.

"We were informed by the IOC that they are in direct contact with the Tokyo 2020 to find remedies," Yuson said in an email to The Associated Press.

Yuson said he had not received a response from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is building the Olympic village, nor the Japan Sport Council, a national government body that is building the stadium. The municipal government and the sports council told the AP they were reviewing the report but offered few other details.

The report said interviewed workers complained about "a pervasive culture of fear" that discouraged speaking out. It said almost half of the workers interviewed did not have formal contracts, and it found "dangerous patterns of overwork" at both high-profile venues. It said some workers at the Olympic village reported working 28 consecutive days, and up to 26 straight at the national stadium.

Yuson said some problems are exacerbated by tight Olympic deadlines and pressure to finish on time.

"The situation is even worse with so-called interns or migrant workers with issues — language, employment contracts and immigration issues," Yuson said by email. "Massive overtime in construction is really a big problem in Japan."

The labor federation began monitoring the Tokyo Olympics in 2016 and last interviewed workers in February.

The report noted two workers have died on projects for the Tokyo Olympics. Death by overwork, known as "karoshi," is a problem in Japan with employees often forced to work long hours despite government measures to try to prevent it.

Tokyo organizers also say they are trying to cut spending .

This drew strong rebukes this month at an annual meeting in Australia of Summer Olympic sports federations. Federation heads said Tokyo organizers are trying to cut items they view as "decorative" and might be out of the view of television cameras.

They also complained about high hotel prices, and items being cut that they deem basic like food services, storage facilities and the "look" of the venues.

Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Summer Olympic sports federations, is also an IOC member and part of the inspection team. He has promised to push organizers about the cuts.

Tokyo appears to be well-financed. The $5.6 billion privately funded operating budget — the budget to run the games themselves — is twice as large as that for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Still, the national government, cities and prefectures are chipping in at least $15 billion more to update infrastructure, build venues and get the country ready when the games open. Costs are higher in Japan than Brazil, with the governments still picking up about 70% of the Olympic bill.

Tokyo officials have said operating costs have increased, partly by a decision to use more existing venues. Earlier plans called for constructing new venues, most of which would have been built at government expense.

Coates said Tuesday that $2 billion to $4 billion had already been saved, partly by using existing venues. But doing so has also shifted more costs to local organizers.

"We think there is still more savings to be obtained," Coates said, implying more reductions in certain areas.


Stephen Wade on Twitter:


More AP sports: and

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



The Week in Cartoons: July 1-5


The Women of the 116th Congress

The Civic Report

The Year in Photos 2018


Healthiest Communities

Mobile Help for Mental Health

National News

Ross Perot Dies at 89


Marines Arrested for Smuggling Migrants

World Report

Heat Wave Compromises Europe’s Climate Goals

Best Countries

Singapore Support for Hong Kong Protests


The 10 Worst Presidents

Not all U.S. presidents are missed once they leave the White House.

Andrew Soergel and Jay TolsonDec. 31, 2014

Cartoons on President Donald Trump

June 18, 2019, at 10:30 a.m.

Photos: Obama Behind the Scenes

A collection of moments during and after Barack Obama's presidency.

June 27, 2018

Photos: Trump and His Supporters

A collection of moments before and during Donald Trump's presidency.

Jan. 30, 2019

Ross Perot Dies at 89

The self-made billionaire mounted two third-party bids for president and founded a $25 billion company.

Alexa LardieriJuly 9, 2019

Marines Arrested for Smuggling Migrants

The two Marines were arrested and charged with committing ‘transportation of certain aliens for financial gain.’

Alexa LardieriJuly 9, 2019

Heat Wave Compromises Europe’s Climate Goals

Far fewer homes and offices in Europe are equipped with air conditioning. Amid more frequent sweltering temperatures, however, that appears to be changing.

Alan NeuhauserJuly 9, 2019

Lawmakers Want Congress to Declare Climate Emergency

The resolution is largely symbolic and likely won’t gain support in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Cecelia Smith-SchoenwalderJuly 9, 2019

Dems to Subpoena 12 Trump Officials

The House Judiciary Committee is looking for documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Alan NeuhauserJuly 9, 2019

Tom Steyer Joins Field of 2020 Dems

After initially declining to run earlier this year, Steyer says he wants to focus his presidential campaign on combating climate change and implementing political reforms.

Lisa HagenJuly 9, 2019