Japan downsizes 2020 Tokyo Olympics site
Japan is scaling down the planned main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, following an uproar from some prominent architects who think it is too big and expensive.
Hakubun Shimomura, the minister in charge of education, sports and science, told parliament today the stadium designed by award-winning British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid would cost 300 billion yen (£1.8 billion) to build, and that was "too massive a budget". He says Mr Hadid's design will be used but the project will be scaled back.
The 80,000-seat futuristic-looking stadium has been billed as costing 130 billion yen (£807 million). The minister's estimate includes surrounding construction and infrastructure costs.
Architect Fumihiko Maki and 100 other experts say the project is too big.
The plans were approved earlier this year and Mr Shimomura's remarks signal a policy shift.
Mr Shimomura said: "We need to rethink this to scale it down. Urban planning must meet people's needs."
He did not give specifics on how construction will be trimmed, but he stressed that the design concept will be kept. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.
He also said the stadium will still have all the basic features needed to host the Olympics. It is replacing the smaller 54,000-seat main stadium used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The site sits in the middle of a city centre park within walking distance of shopping malls, high-rise buildings, a Shinto shrine and a famous venue designed by Kenzo Tange for the 1964 Olympics.
Zaha Hadid Architects office has said the venue is flexible and can be used for events beyond the Olympics, such as concerts, but it has expressed willingness to talk about design changes.