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Tokyo governor says Olympics worth the cost, Paralympics key

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Thursday defended the cost of hosting the 2020 Olympic Games, saying the Paralympics in particular would build a legacy by creating better accessibility for Japan’s rapidly aging society.

Koike had taken Olympics organisers to task after her election three years ago, saying the Games budget was in danger of ballooning and ordering a review of costs and facilities.

But she told a news conference on Thursday that spending was under control with a budget ceiling having been set, and voiced confidence that citizens’ tax money was being put to effective use.

“I am particularly emphasising the Paralympic Games,” Koike said. “It could serve as a good springboard in bringing in designs that will ensure accessibility as well as what we call barrier-free access and facilities.”

Koike said the legacy of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was urban infrastructure like the Metropolitan Expressway and the Shinkansen bullet train.

“I’d like the 2020 Games to be something more intangible, a new way of thinking for people and society as a whole,” Koike said.

“Accessibility for all is a major challenge for every city,” she said, noting the proportion of Tokyo’s over-65 population would reach 31 percent by 2050.

The latest budget figures show a cost of 1.35 trillion yen (£10.1 billion), with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government shouldering 600 billion yen.

The Tokyo Olympic Games will be held July 24 to Aug. 9 next year followed by the Paralympics Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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