Olympic Renovations

As the Japanese media obsess over an abuse scandal involving the national women’s judo team that some fear may derail Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, government agencies are arguing over who will actually pay the very expensive cost of renovating the Olympic stadium built for the 1964 Tokyo games.

The bid committee has said that instead of building a new stadium it would refurbish the old one, but that would still cost 130 billion yen ($1.4 billion). The national government has so far only earmarked 1.3 billion for the work.

A group of national lawmakers has proposed extending a local soccer “lottery” game to cover matches in England’s Premier League and the World Cup to help pay for the renovation. The Toto lottery game allows soccer fans to essentially bet on games played by member teams of J.League, Japan’s professional soccer league. At present, Toto, whose revenues go toward “sports and culture,” brings in about 80 billion yen a year, but since there are no J.League games between December and February, the system could be extended to cover European and World Cup-related games.

The Japan Sport Council estimates it could make an addition 30 billion yen a year if such matches were covered by the system.