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Tokyo 2020 will have challenges of its own

With the next Summer Olympics headed her way, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike is preparing for a strenuous workout. The practice started when she received the Olympic flag on Sunday in the official handover ceremony from her Rio counterpart, Mayor Eduardo Paes.

Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes, IOC president Thomas Bach and Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike during the flag handover ceremony. —PHOTO: CAMERON SPENCERGETTY IMAGES)

“I hope the flag is not too heavy,” she joked the day before, “although I have trained my muscles to receive it properly.”

That doesn’t mean they will be easy, particularly for Tokyo.

Here’s a look at some of the challenges.

The costs

The new national stadium is an example of Tokyo’s rising costs — or underestimating costs. The original bill was expected to be $1 billion, but the price soared to three times that much in a design by the late architect Zaha Hadid.

Organisers scrapped that design and adopted a new one by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The cost will still be at least 50 percent more than the original estimate with completion set for November, 2019.

Costs are rising elsewhere, too. The Tokyo organising committee’s operating budget was $3.5 billion in the original bid document. But officials say it will be revised upward to account for inflation and unexpected costs. This is the budget for running the games themselves, and does not include building roads and other infrastructure.

Tokyo proposed compact games in its winning bid three years ago. But constructing scaled-down venues — following Rio’s model — could be costly in Japan. The buildings must be earthquake-proof, and Japanese taste might not accept stripped-down architecture.

Tokyo’s games are divided into two basic sectors — a zone around Tokyo Bay, and a so-called Heritage Zone, which is anchored around the new national stadium. The remaining venues are scattered around, from cycling in Izu, southwest of Tokyo, to soccer venues in Sapporo, Miyagi, Saitama, and Yokohama.

Tokyo has a sophisticated transport system, but it’s crowded and not particularly foreigner-friendly.

Getting around might be more complex than Rio, which was difficult in a city sliced up by the sea, mountains and poor roads.

The events

Five sports have been added to Tokyo’s programme: baseball-softball, skateboarding, surfing, karate and sport climbing. They enter under new IOC rules that allow cities to propose events.

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