Warnings on cost rises were ignored: Japan stadium designers

Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:42am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - The firm of architects whose design for Japan's new Olympic stadium was scrapped said the ballooning costs that doomed their plan were due partly to an uncompetitive selection of contractors and that warnings about this were ignored.

U.K.-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) also said on Tuesday it had initially learned that Japan was going "back to zero" on the stadium plan through news reports, and that it later received a "brief official notice" from the Japan Sport Council (JSC), which owns and runs the stadium, of the decision.

Costs for the New National Stadium, set to be the centerpiece of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, soared to $2.1 billion, nearly twice original estimates, sparking widespread outrage that prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to decide nearly two weeks ago to abandon the Zaha Hadid design.

The company said in a statement, however, that it had worked to reduce cost estimates after its design was selected in an international competition in 2012 and had been approved by the JSC.

It said sharp rises in construction costs in Japan, the need to have the stadium completed by a fixed date and the use of a two-stage tender process, in which the contractor was named before any invitation to submit cost estimates and without any international competition, helped inflate costs.

"Our warning was not heeded that selecting contractors too early in a heated construction market and without sufficient competition would lead to an overly high estimate of the cost of construction," the statement added.

Officials at the JSC were not immediately able to comment.

The decision to abandon the design for the stadium also meant that key matches in the 2019 rugby World Cup are without a home, damaging Japan's reputation for organizational prowess, especially in the sporting world.   Continued...

A rendering model of the new National Stadium for 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, is displayed at a meeting of memebrs of the advisory council on the construction of the new stadium, in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 7, 2015 and released on July 17, 2015. REUTERS/Kyodo