Rowing federation seeks clarification on Tokyo 2020 venue

TOKYO: The head of the international rowing federation says he is seeking clarification from Tokyo officials after a city advisory panel recommended moving the 2020 Olympics rowing competition far from the Japanese capital to save money.


Jean-Christophe Rolland, president of the Swiss-based World Rowing, was in Tokyo on Monday on a scheduled visit. He said the reports of a possible venue change had come as a surprise.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has promised “world-class cost-control” for the 2020 Tokyo Games, and ordered a review by a panel of independent experts. A preliminary report Friday warned of ballooning costs and recommended using existing venues for rowing, swimming and volleyball instead of building new ones.

“I was very surprised … to hear about a possible change, and not to say more, a little bit disappointed,” Rolland told reporters. “We made a full, in-depth review of all the possibilities, and the outcome of this is that the Sea Forest is the best solution.”

Rolland said he visited the originally proposed venue, called “Umi no Mori (Sea Forest),” earlier Monday and felt confident that the decision was right.

“For me, there is no doubt this is absolutely suitable for the sport of rowing,” he said. Rolland said he was to meet with Koike and was keen to hear the Tokyo metropolitan government’s side of the story.

Organizing committee deputy director Yukihiko Nunomura reassured Rolland that the venue included in the initial bid is the one approved by all concerned parties.

Tokyo’s report recommended an existing venue about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Tokyo as a cheaper option to the site in Tokyo, where the latest cost estimate for renovations has risen to seven times its initial projections. While organizers hope to make the venue a future “mecca” of rowing, the report calls it groundless because of Japan’s small rowing communities and their lack of incentives to relocate to Tokyo.

The alternative existing venues for the other two sports are in the Tokyo area.