• Staff Report, Kyodo


Japan has won gold again — in the Olympic missteps category.

The designers of the new National Stadium apparently forgot to include a cauldron for the Olympic flame.

And they cannot just stick it anywhere: The interior is largely lined with wood.

Officials are blaming a “lack of communications” between the government and other parties, but say they will fix the problem.

A multiparty leaders’ coordination commission for the 2020 Games says it will set up a review team to decide where to put the flame. It has to take into account the Japanese Fire Service Act, which spells out fire regulations, particularly if the dish is placed high up.

The team, headed by Olympics minister Toshiaki Endo and comprising members of the Games committee, the Japan Sports Agency and stadium operator, the Japan Sport Council (JSC), is to come up with a solution as early as April.

“The basic design will be finalized by May and we’ll deal with it swiftly,” said Endo. He said it is possible the stadium plan by architect Kengo Kuma, adopted in December after a humiliating U-turn over a previous design, could itself face revision.

The cauldron is not mentioned in the government’s August development plan, while the International Olympic Committee stipulates the cauldron should ideally be placed somewhere visible from both inside and outside the stadium.

The 2020 organizing committee insists that information has been passed on to the government and the Japanese Olympic Committee, but a government source claimed the information “wasn’t passed on to committee President Yoshiro Mori in the first place.”

The cauldron is normally located inside the stadium; it was placed at the upper section of the stands of the now demolished old national stadium for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

“It stems from the lack of communications between the JSC, the government, the organizing committee and other parties when the new development plan was being drawn up,” a government source said.

The lighting of the Olympic torch, the highlight of the opening ceremony, could be restricted unless the organizing team finds a solution.

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