Tokyo Olympics budget sparks dispute

December 20, 2018

TOKYO (AFP) - Should weather forecasting satellites or roomy black cabs with distinctive logos be included in a country’s Olympic budget?

That is a problem Japan and Tokyo 2020 organisers are wrestling with as they try to work out just how much they will end up spending on the Olympics.

Organisers will unveil the latest version of their budget on Friday and they face intense pressure to keep costs down.The current budget for the Games — last updated this time last year — stands at 1.35 trillion yen ($12 billion at current exchange rates) and organisers have pledged it will not increase.”We can’t exceed the level of the previous version of the budget,” said Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto at a recent news conference, amid concerns that ballooning costs are putting off potential Olympic host cities.But a dispute has erupted over what exactly counts as Olympic spending.

Of the 1.35 trillion yen, the organising committee stumps up 600 billion, the Tokyo city government the same amount and the central Japanese government 150 billion — mainly to build a new national stadium.

But a report from government auditors made headlines in October when it revealed that a budget-busting 800 billion yen had been allocated by government ministries and agencies in the five years to March 2018.

According to the report, the central government has allocated funds for 286 projects — ranging from the operation of the weather satellites to subsidies for hydrogen stations for fuel-cell vehicles.”I think it’s too much to say that these are Olympics-related,” Muto has said.

The government’s top spokesman Yoshihide Suga has stressed Japan’s commitment to an Olympics with a “compact” budget.