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Japan Sport Council unveils modified National Stadium designs

The Japan Sport Council has unveiled images of Zaha Hadid Architect’s re-designed National Stadium, which the architects say will “make the stadium even more efficient, user-focused, adaptable and sustainable.”

The modified design for the centrepiece of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics sees the stadium’s capacity remain at 80,000-seats. ZHA admitted they modified their designs following sustained protest from Japanese architects and citizens alike, and repeated criticism including a petition launched by Pritzker laureates, Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki. The Japanese Government had earlier announced plans to reduce the cost from its original budget of $3bn to $1.7bn.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it would support a scaled-back plan for the entire event. Speaking after the IOC Coordination Commission’s first visit to Tokyo, Committee Vice President, John Coates, said:

We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more temporary grandstands. It may be that there are new venues and existing venues which are currently dedicated for just one sport, where with good programming you could do two.

A key part of Tokyo’s successful bid was the city’s pledge to deliver a more ‘compact’ Games, with 28 of the 33 competition locations situated within five miles of the Athletes’ Village. However, Tokyo’s organising committee has now informed the IOC it intends to re-visit these plans amid concerns over rising costs, with local media reports suggesting locations in the Greater Tokyo area, such as Saitama (an hour away from the city centre) may be used.

Masuzoe appears to be at ease with these potential changes, stating the city’s highly efficient public transportation would make it difficult to justify billing the taxpayer for excessive costs incurred by the compact Games model.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Masuzoe said:

Even if a venue is 100km away, you can still achieve a maximum travel time of 30 minutes if the transportation system if appropriate. Expenses can be 30, 40, 50 times more than the original plan. How can I persuade the taxpayers to pay this kind of money? We are working with the IOC and the various sports federations to make the Games sustainable. Legacy is very important. If you abolish everything after the Games who can accept that?

Masuzoe’s comments come after the IOC urged Tokyo 2020 to avoid unnecessary construction in its preparations for the Olympic Games, welcoming talk of adjusting venue plans.