August 25, 2015 / 8:18 AM / 3 years ago

Japan offer no assurances on IOC deadline

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan are unable to guarantee they will meet an International Olympic Committee deadline to complete work on the new National Stadium in time for the 2020 Games.

John Coates (L), International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Tokyo 2020 Games and Japan's organising committee President Yoshiro Mori attend a news conference in Tokyo, July 1, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

IOC vice president John Coates, on a visit to Tokyo on Tuesday, asked Japan to deliver the stadium by January 2020 ahead of their hosting of the Games which are scheduled to take place from July 24-Aug. 9.

Japan’s Olympic minister Toshiaki Endo said the deadline, set in order that the venue could host necessary test events prior to the Games, would be tough to meet.

“It was going to be April on a very tight schedule,” Endo was quoted as saying by Kyodo News of the planned completion date.

“We can ask the contractors to push it, but we have no idea if it’s doable.

“Securing the materials, the workers and technicians is difficult so we can’t shorten the schedule easily.”

Japan scrapped its original plan for the new National stadium last month in the face of widespread outrage after costs ballooned to $2.1 billion, nearly twice original estimates — an unusual move for an Olympic host city this late in the process.

Earlier this month, Japan approved guidelines for its new Olympic stadium, vowing to build an athlete-friendly stadium as cheaply as possible.

Kyodo said Australian Coates, head of the Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Olympics, had stressed the new stadium would not require a 80,000 seating capacity as with the original futuristic designed venue by U.K.-based Zaha Hadid Architects.

“I think we’ll be able to find a way to keep it under 200 billion yen ($1.66 billion),” Endo said.

The stadium issues are not the only problems to have hit preparations for the Tokyo’s second Olympics.

Organizers have rolled back on promises to have most venues within eight kilometers of the Olympic Village, while the Olympic logo has become the focus of plagiarism accusations which Japan and its designer deny.

($1 = 120.1900 yen)

Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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