2020 Olympics organizers again misfire with cauldron conundrum

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.

  • Les Grossman

    The Japanese Government will have to cancel hosting the 2020 Olympics in complete shame sooner or later. They cannot afford it, they cannot build it, they cannot organize it, they cannot manage it, they cannot complete whatever monstrosity they come up with on time and, even it they do make the deadlines, they cannot guarantee the safety of anyone crazy enough to actually go there. There is way too much at risk and it will be a big huge target for the terrorists to go after. So, either the Japanese Government cancels it all now and cuts the losses or it continues this travesty and burns trillions more of taxpayers’ money. Do the math. Whatever.

    • TV Monitor

      Les Grossman

      Japan of this decade is not the same of the Japan of the 1980s or the 1990s. This is a sick country aged beyond prime that can’t do anything right.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Is there any real reason for the silly IOC rule that the cauldron must be visible outside the stadium? It’s not as if the people passing by don’t know what is going on inside. Stick the cauldron in a safe spot on the field and then erect giant screens on the roof to show the outside world the flame that must be seen. So much effort and grief wasted on minor things.

  • TV Monitor

    This is just another example of a lack of debates within Japanese society.

    If the designs were debated in open public then somebody should have pointed out the lack of cauldron in the design. Instead, the elderly few decided in secrecy and everyone down below just went along without pointing out the design’s obvious flaws.

    This lemming tendencies in Japan is the reason why Japan’s going down the gutter and no one’s sounding alarm.

    • Steve Jackman

      This is exactly what happens when you have a society based on zero communication, so this type of thing comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked at Japanese companies. The Japanese have made communicating so burdensome, heirarchical and such a chore that most Japanese shy away from raising questions or having any meaningful discussion as being too troublesome or mendokusai.

      Working at Japanese companies here, I’ve always found it frustrating that there is an almost total lack of questions or critical discussion, since everyone is too scared to speak up. Things happen by decree and employees are driven by fear and groupthink of the worse kind. This inevitably shows up in flawed product design and it is why I have stopped buying Japanese products.

  • jcbinok

    I wonder if Ms. Hadid’s design included a spot for a cauldron.