This week’s featured article


The complicated design of Tokyo’s new National Stadium meant only a limited number of contractors could tackle the project and was the biggest cause of its budget blowout, the Japan Sport Council revealed Tuesday.

Board members of the JSC, an external body of the sports ministry, said the skills needed to build special components of the design account for ¥76.5 billion of the project cost alone.

On June 29, the central government confirmed that the total construction cost for the stadium could jump to ¥252 billion, about ¥90 billion more than the ¥169 billion the council estimated last year.

The JSC on Tuesday said last April’s consumption tax hike from 5 percent to 8 percent pushed up construction costs by ¥4 billion from the May 2014 estimate, while soaring costs for materials and labor had resulted in a ¥35 billion cost spike.

However, the board has decided to stick to building the stadium, albeit with some changes, as close to the original design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid as possible, including two massive “keel arches” forming the backbone of the roof.

The monolithic design has drawn the ire of a group of Japanese architects led by Fumihiko Maki, who has called for the giant arches to be scrapped and replaced instead by a simpler roof design to save up to ¥150 billion and result in a shorter construction time.

“It is our mission to go with the original design,” as the government bid for the right to hold the 2020 Olympics by advertising Hadid’s design in front of international audiences, the chairman of the JSC, Ichiro Kono, said.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology revealed in May it would delay construction of the retractable roof until after the Olympics, saying otherwise construction would not be completed by fall 2019, when Japan will host the Rugby World Cup.

First published in The Japan Times on July 8.

Warm up

One-minute chat about the Tokyo Olympics.


Collect words related to sports, e.g., game, training, Olympic.

New words

1) blowout: an extreme and unexpected increase in costs; e.g., “The budget blowout came as a shock.”

2) component: part; e.g., “This is the machine’s key component.”

3) soar: to increase suddenly above the normal level; e.g., “Living costs soared after taxes were raised.”

4) albeit: although or even though; e.g., “The situation is improving, albeit slowly.”

5) retractable: capable of being withdrawn; e.g., “Cats have retractable claws.”

Guess the headline

Unique st_ _ _ _ _ de_ _ _ _ biggest reason for cost blowout: sport council


1) Why might the complicated design for the stadium be the main cause of the budget blowout?

2) What was the estimated cost of building the stadium in 2014?

3) What sports event will take place in Japan in 2019?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about Tokyo hosting the Olympics in 2020?

2) Do you think they should stick with the original stadium design?

3) How do you think the Olympics will affect Japan’s economy?




国際関係の友好強化と日本経済活性化の起爆剤として期待されている特別な機会です。 工事が終わらず世界からの観戦客を満足に迎え入れることができなかった、金額的な負担が後に大きく残り、日本経済を圧迫する要因となったということは避けたいものです。刻々と迫る2020年に向けて、適切な舵取りが求められています。


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