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Mixed responses on 2020 venue report

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe options presented by the Tokyo metropolitan government’s investigative panel for changing certain venues for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have drawn mixed responses from local governments and sporting organizations.

Presented Tuesday to a meeting of the administrative reform headquaters of the metropolitan government, the panel’s report recommends building a new swimming facility and suggests several candidates, including existing facilities, for rowing and canoe sprint venues.

The rushed nature of the review has created an atmosphere of confusion, as well as disappointment among parties left out of the task force’s recommendations.

Hope and disappointment

The Miyagi Naganuma Boat Race Course in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, made it onto the task force’s report as a possible venue for rowing and canoe sprint competitions.

“I hope they’ll present the Olympics as a symbol of reconstruction from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake,” said Yasuhiko Abe, head of the Tome City Sightseeing Product Association. “A number of issues were pointed out, but I hope the matter is given careful consideration that leads to Naganuma as the choice.”

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai also expressed hope. “We’re still in the ring, so I believe anything is possible,” Murai said.

However, Saiko lake in Toda, Saitama Prefecture, which had been included in the task force’s initial report as “a possible venue on a river or lake,” was not among the candidates in the latest report.

Taku Wada, director of the Saitama rowing association, was disappointed, saying: “Our governor appealed to the governor of Tokyo, but we weren’t even mentioned in the report. It’s very dispiriting.”

Saitama Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda, speaking at his regular press conference Tuesday, held out hope. “The investigative panel is not the team that makes the decisions. I hope Saiko will be taken up by the four-party task force,” Ueda said.

Aiming for quick decision

Sporting associations and municipalities involved in venues that were among multiple options listed in the report remained in a state of uncertainty. Nobuyuki Aiura, secretary general of the Japan Rowing Association, said: “We’re aware of the cost and other issues [associated with Sea Forest Waterway]. We intend to reach a solution by consulting and cooperating with the metropolitan government.”

Masakazu Takehara, a senior director of the Japan Canoe Federation, was glad that Sea Forest Waterway was among the options in the report. “We hope the athletes will be given top priority by choosing the original plan,” Takehara said.

For the volleyball venue, the latest report added Yokohama Arena in Yokohama as a candidate site. Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa expressed caution in a press conference Tuesday, while calling for a decision to be made quickly.

“In general, I’d welcome the chance for Kanagawa to host an event, but with cost-sharing and other issues not settled, I can’t call it good or bad,” Kuroiwa said.

A spokesperson for the Japan Volleyball Association said, “We strongly hope a new facility will be built in the form of Ariake Arena.”

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