Japan eyes capping cost of Olympic stadium at ¥155 billion

Kyodo

The government hopes to cap the cost of building the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at ¥155 billion, much lower than the ¥252 billion projected under a recently scrapped plan, government sources said Thursday.

The cap will be part of a new National Stadium construction plan the government will finalize at a meeting of Cabinet ministers on Friday after the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scrapped the original plan in July amid a popular outcry over its ballooning projected cost.

The stadium’s spectator capacity is expected to be left unchanged at 80,000 people to meet the bidding requirement for a soccer World Cup tournament, which Japan hopes to host in the future, the sources said.

Under the envisioned plan, the new stadium will accommodate roughly 68,000 spectators during the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020. Some parts of the running track in the stadium would be converted into temporary seats to accommodate more people during a future World Cup.

The government intends to make sure that the stadium will be built by April 2020. But given the International Olympic Committee’s request that the venue be built by January of that year, it plans to ask a yet-to-be-named contractor to propose shortening its construction schedule, the sources said.

The Olympics’ opening ceremony is expected to be held at the stadium in late July 2020. The new stadium will be built in central Tokyo on the site of the previous National Stadium for the 1964 Olympics, which has already been demolished.

The government has already adopted what is known as its “basic ideas” about the new stadium, including the plan to build a roof to cover only its spectator seating areas and not to make the roof retractable.

The government will begin soliciting bidders early next month. The bidders’ plans will be screened and selected by the Japan Sport Council.

The original stadium was conceived by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, featuring two gigantic arches over the stadium. The stadium cost nearly doubled from the initially projected ¥130 billion, forcing Abe to announce the project’s overhaul in mid-July amid public criticism.