October 24 - Japan could be forced to scale back ambitious designs by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid to rebuild the National Stadium in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics after they were warned that it could cost too much.
Olympics Minister Hakubun Shimomura has told a Japanese Parliamentary Committee that the new Stadium could cost as much as 300 billion yen (£2 billion/$3 billion/€2.2 billion), as opposed to the 130 billion (£824 million/$1.3 billion/€967 million) yen in the Tokyo 2020 bid proposal, and that the Government would consider scaling it back.
An official at the Education Ministry claimed the original estimate was for the Stadium alone, and the additional costs would be for landscaping and other work on the grounds around the new stadium, which would have 80,000 seats compared to 54,000 in the present arena, which hosted the 1964 Olympics and is due to be demolished next year.
"The Minister meant two things - that while guaranteeing the Stadium has the needed facilities and scale to host the Olympics, the building could be made smaller, more compact," said Yukio Yamamoto, a spokesman for the Ministry's Sports and Youth Bureau.
"Then there's also the idea that the cost may be too much."
The spaceship-like Stadium, which is also due to host the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, was designed by Iraqi-born London-based architect Zaha Hadid, who was also behind the Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympics.
That project was also dogged by financial controversy after she was instructed to revise her designs following a specification change which led to a doubling of the £75 million ($122 million/€88 million) estimated cost.
Although the same general design was kept, with capacity for 17,500 spectators, the revised Aquatics Centre design was much smaller and was expected to cost much less than previously expected.
But, in the end, it still ended up costing £269 million ($436 million/€316 million).
Hadid's plans for the Stadium have come under criticism from Japanese architects, led by Fumihiko Maki, designer of the 1990 Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. who say it is too big and would not blend in with its environment.
Its construction would also require cutting down a number of trees, a precious commodity in crowded Tokyo.
Yamamoto said any changes might reduce the amount of space for things such as exhibition rooms, but claimed things essential for hosting the Olympics and Paralympics would remains untouched and the number of seats would be unchanged.
"Basically the changes would be to make the stadium the 'correct' size, it would not be of a size that would make it impossible to host the Olympics," he said.
"It's a matter of making it the right size and the right cost."
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November 2012: Zaha Hadid chosen to design Tokyo stadium set to be centrepiece of 2020 Olympics
October 2012: London 2012 Olympic Stadium architects shortlisted to redesign iconic Tokyo venue
July 2012: Tokyo 2020 unveil plans for Olympic Stadium that would be "jewel in the crown"