Timeline laid out for new Olympic stadium; construction to begin early next year


The Abe government set out Tuesday how it will tackle building the new National Stadium after scrapping plans widely derided as extravagant and costly.

Construction will start on the new centerpiece for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in January or February, education and sports minister Hakubun Shimomura said.

Officials will first draft a plan that lists the functions the building will need. This document, which will include possible costs, will be complete by the fall and then put to tender.

The design and builder will be chosen in an international competition with the aim of completing the stadium by spring 2020, Shimomura said.

He also told a news conference that he is considering setting up a third-party panel to look into how the construction costs of the scrapped stadium plan swelled to ¥252 billion from ¥130 billion.

Shimomura had said earlier that his ministry would review the issue on its own. His decision to entrust it to a third-party body is seen as a bid to ensure that it remains an impartial study.

The explosion in cost sparked considerable public criticism, and on Friday Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a review of the project “from scratch.”

Shimomura said he will discuss details of the panel with Olympics minister Toshiaki Endo and the prime minister’s office.

The old National Stadium, built for the Olympics in 1964, has been razed. Construction of the new stadium was originally planned to begin on the site in October and be finished in May 2019 so that it would be ready for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

Shimomura rejected calls from the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party, that he resign to take responsibility for the debacle.

Infrastructure minister Akihiro Ota also told a news conference that if asked, his ministry will help on issues such as construction materials and costs.

The scrapped design, conceived by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, featured two gigantic arches over the stadium.

It was selected from among 46 applicants at an international competition in November 2012, when Tokyo was bidding for the Olympics but had not yet been named host.

Opinion polls showed overwhelming public opposition to the costly plan.

  • jcbinok

    So, they scrapped the design, but are promising to start construction in the spring? That seems ambitious. It’ll be interesting to see what nationality the winner of the next international design competition is.