Tokyo Olympics say costs USD12.6B; Audit report says much more

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organisers said yesterday they are spending JPY1.35 trillion — about USD12.6 billion — to stage next year’s games. Organisers said the expenditure is unchanged from a year ago, although robust sponsorship and ticket sales have generated a contingency fund of an extra USD300 million.

However, Japan’s National Audit Board, in a 177-page report prepared for the national legislature, said next year’s Olympics will cost much more than organisers said.

The audit lists an added USD9.7 billion (JPY1.06 trillion) it said are Olympic-related costs that have not been included. In addition, the city of Tokyo has previously said it would spend another USD7.4 billion (JPY810 trillion) on Olympic-related projects. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said at the time the spending was “for projects directly and indirectly related to the games”.

She said this included building barrier-free facilities for Paralympic athletes, training programmes for volunteers, and advertising and tourism plans.

Organisers argued that many of these costs are not tied directly to the Olympics.

A visitor gestures at newly opened Japan Olympic Museum prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

The audit board, however, came up with similar findings a year ago.

“As in the previous year, their report did not classify the cost of these items and activities based on their direct relevance to the games,” Tokyo organisers said in a statement to the Associated Press. “It aggregated a wide range of projects that could be seen as contributing to the games, including those that were implemented without regard to the games.”

The respected Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei and the daily Asahi also calculated Olympic costs. They said spending was far above what organisers contend. They also placed overall spending at about JPY3 trillion, or about USD28 billion.

The audit board report urged more transparency. “In order to disclose information to the public and gain their understanding about operations that the government should shoulder, the government Olympic and Paralympic office should disclose more by grasping the overall picture of the operations and costs,” the audit said.

The only non-public money being spent to fund the Olympics is from the privately funded, USD5.6 billion operating budget. Revenue for this budget comes from sponsorships, ticket sales, and marketing — and from a contribution from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The rest is taxpayer money from the national government, the city of Tokyo, and other government bodies.

When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in 2013, the bid committee projected total costs would be USD7.3 billion.

Organisers also reported this week that demand in Japan for Olympic tickets is about 20 times over supply. This has led to criticism on social media by Japanese upset they cannot get tickets to an Olympics they are funding through their taxes.

Tracking Olympic costs is always disputed amid arguments over what are — and what are not — Olympic expenditures. The IOC and local organisers usually claim a lower figure. In fact, the IOC has repeatedly emphasised how it has cut billions in Tokyo by having organisers use existing venues, or build temporary venues.

The Tokyo Olympics open on July 24 and close August 9. They are followed by the Paralympics on August 25 through September 6.

The IOC has been criticised for the rising costs of the Olympics, and the perception it forces host cities to build “white elephant” sports venues. In the last several years it has tried to re-brand itself, emphasising the use of existing venues and giving host cities choices in how they organise.