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Tokyo Olympics chief rebuffs higher reported Games costs

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto dismissed figures in an academic report published on Tuesday that showed the Tokyo Olympics were set to be the most expensive in history, even before the additional costs to be incurred by the Games’ postponement.

Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Chief Executive Officer, speaks during an interview with Reuters, ahead of the one-year countdown to the Tokyo Olympics that have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan July 21, 2020. Picture taken July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The Tokyo Games were postponed until next year because of the global coronavirus pandemic and, as organisers seek to rearrange the event, costs are expected to spiral.

The International Olympic Committee has already said the delay will cost them approximately $800 million, while Japanese organisers have yet to announce what their share will be.

The last budget given by the organising committee was $12.6 billion, announced in December 2019, months before postponement.

However, a wide-ranging study by the University of Oxford in Britain put the costs of the Tokyo Games at $15.84 billion, even before postponement.

Speaking following an executive board meeting on Tuesday, Muto rebuffed these numbers.

“There are no financial grounds for the numbers revealed in that report,” said Muto.

“I am not in a position to make a comment on that currently; I am simply confused by this.”

The Oxford report here added that the delay will result "in billions of dollars of further cost overruns".

IOC Vice President John Coates said earlier on Tuesday that COVID-19 countermeasures would be decided by the end of the year [L4N2GC15K].

Muto confirmed that Tokyo organisers were working towards this timeline, especially in regard to re-negotiating contracts with Games’ sponsors that are only valid until the end of 2020.

He also stressed that the ‘simplification’ measures currently being discussed to lower the costs of the Games could set the trend for future Olympics.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us to go back to the origin of the Olympics and to become a forerunner of the new way to do these Games, heading towards the next generation,” he said.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Gareth Jones