Organizers hope Tokyo stadium final design will be ready in July

Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:07am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - The final design for Tokyo's new National Stadium, the centerpiece of the 2020 Summer Olympic games, is currently expected at the start of July but could be delayed, Japanese officials said on Friday.

But they said the stadium would definitely be finished in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and that Tokyo has no intention of scrapping the current design and starting again from scratch, as some critics have suggested.

Construction of the new National Stadium has run into numerous problems, including skyrocketing costs and demolition delays that have prompted speculation it might not be finished in time, as well as feuding over who will pay what for it.

Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura, who also holds the sports portfolio, said Japan was consulting with the company of architect Zaha Hadid on a design aimed at cutting costs, with the final decision and contract expected at the start of July.

Though the Olympics are not until July 2020, the stadium is also set to be used for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which begins almost a year earlier. Hadid designed the aquatics center for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

"At this point we expect that a contract will be concluded at the start of July, but we're still exploring cost cuts and revisions, and if a better plan emerges later the contract could also slip to later," Shimomura told a news conference.

"The absolute priority is that the stadium must be finished by the spring of 2019, and then that costs be cut."

From the start, the stadium has been sharply criticized for its size and design, which critics, including international prize-winning architects, say is unsuited to the downtown Tokyo neighborhood where it will be built.   Continued...