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Toyota head steps down from Tokyo Olympics committee
[TOKYO] Toyota's president has stepped down from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee, amid reports that costs for the event have ballooned to about six times original estimates.
Akio Toyoda said late Monday that he would quit as vice president of the main organising group, opting instead to support the games as head of the Keidanren's Olympic lobbying group.
The Keidanren is Japan's biggest business federation.
Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, signed a nearly US$1.0 billion global Olympic sponsorship deal this year.
"I feel it is vitally important that the organising committee and Japan's business community further strengthen their collaborations prior to the Rio 2016 Games," Toyoda said in a statement.
"I have therefore decided to reorganise my roles and further intensify my efforts to encourage the business community to actively support the delivery of the 2020 Games." Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga will move into Toyoda's position, local media said.
The announcement comes after a tough year for Tokyo's Olympic committee as a cost row forced the scrapping of a showpiece stadium design and the event's logo was ditched over plagiarism claims.
On Tuesday, Japan chose a new stadium with drastically lower costs, after the earlier version was blasted for a more than US$2.0 billion price tag that would have made it the world's most expensive sports venue.
Local media reported the cost of staging the Tokyo Olympics will hit nearly US$15 billion - six times the original estimate.