Tokyo 2020 head expects IOC to welcome stadium decision
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee may well welcome Japan's decision to scrap and completely revise plans for its controversial National Stadium since the move will save money, the head of the Tokyo games organizing group said on Wednesday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week that he had decided to take the stadium plans back to square one in the face of growing public outrage over ballooning costs, as his support rates took a hit over unpopular defense bills.
The sudden decision over the stadium, designed by U.K.-based architect Zaha Hadid and set to be the centerpiece for the 2020 Summer Olympics, took many by surprise and became the latest in a series of broken promises connected to the event.
But Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said substantial savings on the stadium -- projected to cost some $2 billion, nearly twice original estimates -- fit right in to the IOC's new cost-cutting policy, Agenda 2020.
Mori acknowledged that the futuristic stadium design had probably helped Tokyo beat off Istanbul and Madrid to be awarded the Games in 2013 but that the IOC was likely to approve the revised plans at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
"If the decision was made to save money, it should go right in line with the IOC's Agenda 2020," Mori told a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Many nations have downsized stadium projects but it is highly unusual to change plans completely at this stage and risks damaging the can-do reputation that was one of the reasons Tokyo won the games.