July 30, 2015 / 11:59 AM / in 2 years

Japan ruling party to recommend sacking of sports association head

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s ruling party will recommend sacking the head of the sports association that manages the national stadium after plans for a new arena for the 2020 Summer Olympics were scrapped due to soaring costs.

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. Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo

If Ichiro Kono, head of the Japan Sport Center (JSC), is replaced he would be the second official to lose his job over what has become an embarrassment for the government.

Kimito Kubo, a 58-year-old official in the sports ministry who headed a division overseeing construction of the stadium, would resign for personal reasons, the ministry said earlier on Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided earlier this month to go “back to zero” on the new stadium after estimated construction costs almost doubled to $2.1 billion due to a lax selection process.

Once Japan settles on a new plan, there will still be time to finish it before the Olympics, but the delay will leave several important matches for the 2019 Rugby World Cup without a venue.

Taro Kono, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker who is leading an investigation into the debacle, said on Thursday records show that over six meetings the JSC did not once discuss estimated construction costs.

The LDP’s Kono, who is not related to the head of the JSC, also said the head of the sports association should be replaced.

Japan won the bid to host the Games in 2013 largely on its reputation for building and managing infrastructure, but failure to confirm how much the new stadium would actually cost has sparked public outrage and tarnished the government’s reputation.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Writing by Stanley White; editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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