National

Government eyes keeping Olympic stadium costs below ¥160 billion

Kyodo

The government is seeking to keep construction costs of the new National Stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics below ¥160 billion, after scrapping the initial design because cost estimates had snowballed to ¥252 billion, government sources said Saturday.

But the envisioned ceiling, which is to be decided possibly on Aug. 28 or 31, is still higher than the initially estimated cost of ¥130 billion in 2012 for the main Olympics stadium, reflecting rising material prices and personnel costs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scrapped the initial building plan in July amid a public outcry over its ¥252 billion price tag and ordered the project to start from scratch. The original design was the work of Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid’s firm.

According to the sources, the stadium is expected to have 80,000 seats to also meet requirement of potentially hosting future soccer World Cups.

Under a set of guidelines adopted for the new stadium earlier this month, the government decided to give up on building a retractable roof to cover the stadium field to minimize construction costs. It has also left room for the structure to be used after the Olympics for nonsports events such as concerts.

Based on those conditions, the government estimates construction costs could total at most around ¥160 billion. But the government is still considering whether it can trim some costs such as by changing the material to be used for stadium equipment.

However, some government officials believe it should not only focus on cost cutting, but also think about ways to promote domestic technology internationally via the new venue.

The actual construction costs will be decided through negotiations with companies that will be in charge of the construction work.

The public tendering process to select companies to design and build the stadium is expected to kick off early next month.

The government has vowed to complete the construction by the spring of 2020, just months ahead of the games’ opening.