Amid flak over costly stadium, Olympic officials praise Tokyo 2020 preparations

In the face of continued public outcry over a costly central stadium, the International Olympic Committee has once again praised organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Games, citing a $1.7-billion reduction in the overall construction budget.

The IOC's coordination commission finished its second regularly scheduled tour of Japan on Wednesday, visiting numerous venue sites.

"The project remains on track and has made some significant strides forward, particularly in areas like confirming the venue master plan, bringing on board new commercial partners and creating strong governance structures," said John Coates, the commission's chairman.

The Tokyo organizing committee has improved its financial outlook by making use of existing facilities and attracting significant domestic sponsorships, Coates said.

But the elaborate stadium project remains a concern. The original construction estimate of $1.7 billion has ballooned to about $2 billion amid calls for a revised design.

By comparison, the stadium for the 2012 London Games cost a reported $1.1 billion after subsequent work to transform it into a pro soccer venue. China spent about $500 million on its Bird's Nest stadium in 2008.

Tokyo originally projected between $5 billion and $6 billion in overall costs tied to the Olympics, though that amount is sure to rise significantly.

Yoshiro Mori, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 committee, gave no indication of any plan changes Wednesday, instead focusing on what he characterized as a productive visit with IOC inspectors.

"During the meetings, I became increasingly aware of the need to further step up our preparations and to demonstrate our readiness," he said.

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