(ATR) Construction of the Olympic Stadium for Tokyo 2020 could begin in December with the approval of the contractors for the $1.5 billion project.
A rendering of the Tokyo Olympic stadium.
Representatives of national and metropolitan governments okayed the joint venture Friday that will be overseen by the Japan Sport Council. The companies in the joint venture are all from Japan: Taisei Corp., Azusa Sekkei Co. and Kengo Kuma, the architect.
The project is about a year behind schedule after the original design for the stadium was scrapped as too expensive, topping out near the $2.5 billion mark. As such it would have been the most expensive stadium ever constructed, coming as the IOC pushes Olympic cities to avoid costly works for the Games. But even at the lower cost of $1.5 billion, the stadium will still be the most expensive arena built for the Olympics.
Mindful of the still stratospheric costs, newly installed Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Yuriko Koike said she would keep watch over the project, which the city is partially funding. The bulk of financing is from the national government.
"For the burden we have to share, I will ensure it's utilized for the people of Tokyo, and raise my voice when necessary," she told media Friday.
In comments Thursday, Koike raised the possibility she would press for new cuts in construction spending that could result in a new location for rowing hours away from Tokyo. Koike also questions the need for new venues for swimming and volleyball.
The new design for the 80,000 stadium was accepted last December. Construction is forecast to be completed in November 2019. The arena was originally slated to be used for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, now moved to Yokohama as a result of the delay.
The stadium will be built on the site of the 1964 Olympic Stadium which was demolished last year. The new design, dubbed "the hamburger" by critics, employs wood and steel construction. Use of wood as a building material has raised the question of whether the Olympic cauldron can be placed inside the stadium.
While a new national stadium will result from the project, a post-Games use has not yet been clearly defined.
Written by Ed Hula.
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