By Nick Butler

Several petitions have been launched against the proposed Olympic Stadium, pictured in an artistic impression ©Japan Sport CouncilA second petition has been launched by a rival Tokyo architect into the composition of the Zaha Hadid-designed Olympic Stadium due to host athletics, football, rugby sevens and both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at Tokyo 2020.

This follows criticism ever since the winning bid from Hadid was revealed in November 2012, that the design is "simply too big and too expensive" to be sustainable.

The latest petition, produced in English and headed by Tokyo-based architect Edward Suzuki, requests "the Japanese Government to abandon construction of Zaha Hadid's proposal for the new Olympic Stadium and instead remodel the existing stadium to meet the 2020 Games' requirements".

It outlines a list of complaints, largely consisting of environmental and cost-related concerns as well as the "undemocratic" way by which the winning bid was chosen, via a competition. 

The petition currently boasts only 410 supporters, but will be hoping to revitalise the campaign against the design following a initial petition launched last autumn, which garnered more than 15,200 signatures. 

The first effort, introduced by two other leading architects, Fumihiko Maki and Toyo Ito, urged the consideration of "greener and more democratic options" such as renovating rather than replacing the existing National Stadium.

The Olympic Stadium will replace the National Stadium in Tokyo used during the 1964 Games ©Tokyo 2020The Olympic Stadium will replace the National Stadium in Tokyo used during the 1964 Games ©Tokyo 2020

It pointed out five particular areas, with three of them economic in relation to a construction tax burden which is "beyond common sense" and a risk of burdening the next generation of Japanese citizens due to the long-term spending commitments.

So high is the anticipated cost, it is claimed, that the "national priority" of reconstructing Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, could be harmed

Potential environmental damage to the landscape of "blue sky and ginkgo tree-lined Jingu Outer Gardens" is also predicted, while the lack of barrier-free access is a final concern particularly in relation to the Paralympic Games.

London-based Zaha Hadid Architects was chosen by the Japan Sport Council in 2012 in a competition format from a shortlist of 11 candidates, due to the fact "the architecture synthesises perfectly with the urban area surrounding the stadium".

There have already been proposals to scale back the projected plans, following Olympics Minister Hakubun Shimomura telling a Japanese Parliamentary Committee last October 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 yen (£824 million/$1.3 billion/€967 million) in the bid proposal.

Zaha Hadid are yet to respond to the two petitions, but last November project director Jim Heverin publicly backed the plans and warned that they must be allowed to fulfil the original designs.

"The articulation, how [the design] manifests itself, really needs to come from a single vision, otherwise there won't be authorship, there won't be an authentic voice behind it," he told Kyodo News.

The London 2012 Aquatics Centre was also designed by Zaha Hadid ©Getty ImagesThe London 2012 Aquatics Centre was also designed by Zaha Hadid
©Getty Images

The 80,000-seat, futuristic-looking stadium, is also due to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

Hadid also designed the Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympics, another project dogged by financial controversy after the designs were revised, leading to an eventual cost of £269 million ($436 million/€316 million).

However, as on that occasion, a modification of the plans for the Olympic Stadium appears far more likely than any more drastic change, with celebrations held yesterday to mark the last event held in the old National Stadium, a match in the Asian Five Nations rugby tournament between Japan and Hong Kong. 

More details on the two petitions can be found here and here

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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