The Yomiuri ShimbunTo prevent newly built venues for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics from turning into white elephants after the Games, the Tokyo metropolitan government is already working to select private companies to manage and operate them, it has been learned.
Of the six new athletic facilities being built for the Games, the Tokyo government will select operators for five facilities this month at the earliest and for the remaining one next spring. By allowing private operators to start activities to promote the use of these facilities before the Olympics begin, the Tokyo government hopes they will be fully booked for one year after the Tokyo Games.
“It’s unusual for facility operators to be decided on more than a year in advance,” a senior official of the metropolitan government said.
The six new facilities in Tokyo include the Olympic Aquatics Center for swimming events in Koto Ward; the Sea Forest Waterway for rowing and other events around the central breakwater in Tokyo Bay; and the Canoe Slalom Course in Edogawa Ward.
Ariake Arena, the venue for volleyball and other events in Koto Ward, could be used for various purposes such as concerts. The Tokyo metropolitan government therefore plans to sell the rights to operate the facility to a private entity with relevant expertise. The arena is expected to produce a profit, and Tokyo will select a company to which it will sell the rights as early as next spring.
The remaining five facilities have to be used for their respective sports after the Games. Making a profit is expected to be difficult, for reasons including their focus on respective sports.
According to estimates by the Tokyo government, the aquatics center will incur a loss of ¥638 million a year, and the waterway will lose ¥158 million a year.
These facilities will be operated under a system in which a private administrator is designated to operate public facilities. Since the Tokyo government will cover the expected losses, operators will be able to concentrate on their efforts to make a profit from these facilities.
However, if operators begin their promotional activities after the Games, the facilities could remain unused for a certain period of time. The Tokyo government therefore plans to choose operators for these facilities before the Games, to allow operators to start their promotional campaigns as early as possible.
Tokyo hopes the operators will be able to attract international competitions and other sports-related events before and during the Games, when Tokyo is receiving global attention.
The Tokyo government aims to obtain permission at the ongoing session of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly and then designate operators for the facilities within this month. “We want to increase revenues as much as possible by offering time and opportunities for operators so that they can make the most of their expertise,” a Tokyo government official said.
London as role model
Some Olympic facilities constructed at huge expense have become white elephants, placing a burden on Olympic host cities. As a result, an increasing number of cities have hesitated to host Olympic Games.
Some athletic facilities used in the 2004 Athens Games, the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games are no longer being used. London, however, is said to be a good example of post-Olympic use of athletic facilities: It hosted the event in 2012, and made plans before the Games to allow some Olympic venues to be used for concerts and other events.
When officials related to the Tokyo Games visited London, British officials connected with the 2012 Games strongly urged them to work on the post-Olympic use of facilities as soon as possible, according to sources.
Concerning post-Olympic use of venues, the International Olympic Committee sees the issue as an important theme related to the existence of the Olympics.
“Every time we have meetings with IOC officials, we’re asked detailed questions about plans for post-Olympic use of the facilities,” a source involved in the Tokyo Games said. “The IOC highly evaluates our plan to quickly choose operators for Olympic venues after the Games.”Speech