Just days after giving the go-ahead on Zaha Hadid’s hotly contested designs for the Tokyo Stadium, the Japanese government has retracted its stance. With spiraling costs at the heart of contentions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the project would now “start over from zero.”
Abe has instructed the sports and Olympics ministers to select a new stadium design immediately, but the Prime Minister insisted that no further decision would be greenlighted without “listening to the voices of the people and the athletes.”
At the time the government announced its approval, the budget had bloated to $2 billion, with the overly large, “bike helmet” design being publicly slammed by eminent architects including Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki. Public backlash and political battles ensued over who would foot the bill.
However, Zaha Hadid Architects maintains it was “not the case that the recently reported cost increases are due to the design, which uses standard materials and techniques well within the capability of Japanese contractors and meets the budget set by the Japan Sports Council.” Instead, the “real challenge” was “agreeing on an acceptable construction cost against the backdrop of steep annual increases in construction costs in Tokyo and a fixed deadline.”
Abe made the decision to drop Hadid’s designs after a meeting with the chair of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori. Slated as the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympics, the already much-delayed stadium won’t be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as was originally planned. Sports minister Hakubun Shimomura said that a new design will be selected within the next six months.