TOKYO - The potential staging of rowing/canoe sprint events in Miyagi Prefecture during the 2020 Tokyo Games was dealt a blow Friday when a Tokyo metropolitan government department pointed out preparation of the site being considered might not be completed in time, a source close to the matter said.
Naganuma rowing course in Tome in Miyagi -- one of the prefectures hit hardest by the 2011 quake and tsunami -- has been proposed as an alternative to Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay following a report compiled by panel set up by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike to review the snowballing estimated cost of the Games.
The panel recommended the planned venues for swimming, volleyball and rowing/canoe sprint be scaled down or scrapped altogether. But a Tokyo municipal government department has subsequently concluded that refurbishing the Naganuma site could not be completed in time for the Games given the time needed to buy land and carry out an environmental impact assessment, according to the source.
For three days beginning next Tuesday, a working group comprised of representatives from the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo metropolitan and Japanese governments, and the Games organizing committee will hold discussions on the proposed new venues. The four-party group was proposed by IOC President Thomas Bach to Koike last week.
IOC executive director Christophe Dubi is expected to preside over the group to discuss measures to slash costs on construction as well as security and transport.
Koike, who originally said the metropolitan government should come up with a proposal by the end of this month, revealed she has been in constant contact with Bach since their talks on Oct. 18 and is likely to put forward several ideas on Nov. 1 to keep options open, at the IOC's request.
"I've been asked by the IOC 'to have discussion before narrowing it down to one proposal,' so there've been changes (from what I had in mind)," Koike said. "We'll put together several options and seek the solution through a four-way discussion."
"At the same time I'm not sure about tossing out all sorts of ideas. We have to narrow it down to a certain extent if we are not to miss the last chance to reexamine venues."
The outside panel -- which estimates hosting expenses could top 3 trillion yen ($28.5 billion) -- is looking at ways of setting up Sea Forest Waterway as a permanent facility with reduced costs, building it as a temporary site to be removed after the Games or turning Naganuma into a permanent facility.