• Kyodo


The central government said Monday it expects the overall cost of building the new National Stadium to reach ¥252 billion, some ¥90 billion more than the initial projection.

Construction of the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games is slated to begin in October, while the completion target is now May 2019, two months later than previously planned, sports minister Hakubun Shimomura told a meeting of officials in charge of preparing for the Olympics.

The soaring cost and an ongoing review of the stadium’s ultramodern design have given rise to speculation that the project may not be finished in time for the Rugby World Cup, which Japan will host in fall 2019.

But former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who heads the 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, sought to ease such concerns, telling a news conference after the meeting: “I think we will make it in time” for the rugby tournament.

Monday’s meeting finalized the contours of a project criticized for its high projected costs, architectural complexity and a futuristic design that some say will be out of sync with the surrounding area.

The organizers plan to keep the existing design of two gigantic arches over the new stadium, conceived of by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid but widely criticized as the cause of the high cost and prolonged construction.

They will also delay adding a retractable roof to the stadium until after the Olympics.

The central government and Tokyo remain at odds over how much of the construction costs should be shouldered by the metropolitan government.

Shimomura, who has asked Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe for the metropolitan government to shoulder ¥50 billion, said Monday there are no plans to increase that request.

Also Monday, Mori asked Toshiaki Endo, the newly installed Cabinet minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympics, to act as the intermediary between the central and metropolitan governments.

To help finance the project, Shimomura suggested selling the naming rights to the stadium, which will replace the iconic National Stadium built for the 1964 Olympics.

The projected ¥252 billion is “expensive,” he said. “We want to raise as much as ¥20 billion (from outside sources), including donations from the private sector.”

The government will also consider putting plaques on the walls of the stadium bearing the names of large donors.

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