Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s decision on funding for facilities for the 2020 Summer Olympics represents a step forward, but it also underscores the turmoil still raging over a basic budget issue with just three years to go before the event is held.

Koike has agreed to use the metropolitan government’s money to fully fund the construction of all temporary facilities for the Olympics that are to be built outside the capital. The total cost of building these facilities is estimated at 50 billion yen ($440 million).

But it is hard to believe that the governor’s decision will lead to quick progress toward the settlement of the lingering dispute over the funding of the gigantic sports event.

Yuji Kuroiwa, the governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, home to Enoshima island, the planned venue for the Olympic sailing event, summed up the situation when he said, “Governor Koike told me to feel reassured, but how can I?”

Koike’s funding decision concerns only the cost of building the temporary facilities, leaving the question of how to cover the operating costs unsettled.

The total cost of operating the event, including the money needed for the opening and closing ceremonies and measures to deal with the sweltering summer heat, could reach 750 billion yen.

The cost of the sailing event, for instance, includes compensation for local fishermen who will be forced to suspend their operations during the event and expenses for moving and mooring more than 1,000 boats.

Saitama Super Arena, the indoor arena in the city of Saitama where the basketball competition will be held, is required to close the facility for other events for 11 months.

The issues of whether such a lengthy suspension of business is really necessary and how much compensation should be paid to the operator have yet to be addressed.

Talks on cost-sharing issues were slated to start last spring. The resignation of Koike’s predecessor, Yoichi Masuzoe, in June amid an expenses scandal and the consequent gubernatorial election were factors behind the current mess. But Koike’s failure to keep her promise to decide in March on an outline of how the cost of building temporary facilities should be shared has made the situation much worse, causing a further delay in the schedule and deepening the distrust of the metropolitan government among those involved.

The Olympic organizing committee is also to blame for the dire situation.

The committee’s primary mission is to lead the efforts to prepare for the event by coordinating the differing opinions and positions of the metropolitan government, the central government, the other local governments and sports organizations involved.

The committee should help secure a balance between income and costs and, if necessary, negotiate with the International Olympic Committee and international sports associations concerned over changes in the original event plans.

Yoshiro Mori, head of the committee, however, surprised the public last month by publishing a book in which he roundly criticizes both Koike and the Japanese Olympic Committee.

Mori also denounced Koike’s funding decision, saying it was made “too late.”

“It is as if the 50 billion yen has been flying around in the air,” he added.

Mori’s remarks show no sign of a willingness to work with the other parties in preparing for the Olympics.

Mori’s attitude raises serious doubt about his fitness for his job as the chief of the organizing committee. It is probably time for a fundamental review of the way the work to prepare for the 2020 Olympics is organized and carried out.

There are also a raft of questions about the central government’s related moves.

Tamayo Marukawa, the minister in charge of the Olympics, has played absolutely no role in tackling the funding issue. As soon as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suddenly stepped into the mess and ordered effective coordination among the parties to settle the issue, Koike announced her decision that the metropolitan government will cover the full construction costs of the temporary facilities.

It seems that the prime minister’s office and the governor tried to take advantage of the unsettled situation as part of their strategies to secure maximum gains for themselves in the upcoming election of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly.

If so, both sides politically exploited the issue in a way that damages the image of the Olympics and breeds disgust and distrust among the public.

We need to rescue the Tokyo Olympics from this major crisis.

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 13