TOKYO — Japan will start construction of a new centrepiece stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next January or February, sports minister Mr Hakubun Shimomura said today (July 21).
After crafting a new plan, including costs and functions needed, for the national stadium by this fall, Japan will choose a new design and builder through an international competition in a bid to complete the stadium by the spring of 2020, according to the minister.
Mr Shimomura also told a press conference that he is considering setting up a third-party panel to look into how the construction costs of the scrapped stadium had swollen to ¥252 billion before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last Friday that Japan will review the construction plan for the Olympic stadium “from scratch”.
The minister had earlier said the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry would review the issue on its own but he has decided to leave the task to a third-party body so it can be checked more objectively.
Mr Abe announced the review following public criticism as the stadium’s projected construction costs had nearly doubled from the initially projected ¥130 billion.
Mr Shimomura said he will discuss with Olympics Minister Toshiaki Endo and the prime minister’s office details of the planned third-party panel.
Japan had originally planned to start construction of the new stadium in October and complete it in May 2019 so that the new facility would be ready in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
Mr Shimomura rejected calls for his resignation from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan to take responsibility for the issue.
Infrastructure minister Mr Akihiro Ota also said at a press conference that his ministry will offer as much help as possible if requested on issues such as construction costs and materials.
The scrapped design, conceived by Iraqi-British architect Ms Zaha Hadid, featured two gigantic arches over the stadium and looked like a bicycle helmet.
The futuristic design was selected from among 46 applicants at an international competition in November 2012, when Tokyo had yet to win the bid to host the Olympics in 2020.
Opinion polls have shown the overwhelming majority of the public oppose spending such an exorbitant amount of money on the stadium at a time when Japan is suffering from debt-ridden finances.
The new facility will be built in central Tokyo in the site of the previous National Stadium for the 1964 Summer Olympics, which has been demolished.
Source: KYODO NEWS