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Tokyo scraps plans to travel to Rio Olympics after embarassing finance scandal

Masuzoe became the city's second governor to quit since Tokyo was named host of the 2020 Games. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Tokyo Jun 24, 2016, 02.11 PM (IST)
Tokyo officials have scrapped plans to attend the Rio Olympics in a bid to cut spending after a financial scandal cost the city governor, Yoichi Masuzoe, his job, local media said today.

The decision comes just days after Masuzoe resigned for spending public money intended for political campaigns on lavish hotels and spa trips, the latest embarrassing gaffe on the city's troubled road to hosting the 2020 Olympics.

The Tokyo metropolitan assembly has cancelled plans for 27 of its members to view operations at this summer's Rio Games as costs for the trip have sky-rocketed from initial estimates of 62 million yen (around $600,000), the Nikkei business daily reported.

The U-turn comes after citizens lobbied the assembly to reconsider, although some officials are said to be looking into paying their own way to Rio, citing the need to be there as organisers of the next Summer Olympics.

Masuzoe stepped down last week hours before facing a no-confidence vote, becoming the city's second governor to quit since Tokyo was named host of the 2020 Games.

His predecessor Naoki Inose -- who led the capital's successful Olympic bid -- bowed out in late 2013 after also becoming embroiled in a personal finance scandal.

Masuzoe's woes began in April when reports emerged he was using his official car to be driven at the weekends to a cottage south of Tokyo.

Further allegations emerged that Masuzoe had travelled overseas in first class, bought art online and spent public money on family outings and accommodation in Japan.

An election for a new governor is expected as early as next month.

Masuzoe's humiliating departure is the latest in a string of embarrassing gaffes that have plagued Olympic preparations.

Last year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tore up the blueprints for the main Olympic stadium because of ballooning costs, before the official Games logo was also ditched after the designer was accused of plagiarism.

Those fiascos have since been overshadowed by allegations of corruption and French prosecutors have launched an investigation into $2 million in alleged bribes linked to Tokyo's bid to host the Games.

(AFP)
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