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.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe, who attended the meeting as a board member, did not comment on whether he would accept the central government’s request for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to foot ¥50 billion of the project cost.
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.
The council meeting was also attended by Olympics minister Toshiaki Endo and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori.
Tadao Ando, a famed architect who played a major role as the chairman of the judging committee that decided on Hadid’s design, did not attend the meeting.