Wood from disaster-hit regions of Japan will be used to construct the National Stadium being built for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the project’s architect Kengo Kuma has revealed.
Kuma’s announcement came after the Japan Sports Council (JSC) unveiled the interior design for the Stadium, due to be the main venue when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics in four years’ time.
The Stadium is due to feature a number of components which Kuma claims reflects Japanese culture, such as the inclusion of traditional andon lights installed on the concourse.
Other elements include shoji and lattice screens in the VIP lounge and wooden walls and ceilings, revealed after the JSC released an artist’s impression of the venue.
Kuma, who has designed the Stadium after the initial project by London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects was scrapped by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in August 2015 because of spiralling costs, said he plans to use wood from areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Construction of the Stadium is likely to begin at the end of this year, with JSC President Kazumi Ohigashi claiming it will be completed by November 2019.
It was originally due to hold the Rugby World Cup final that year but the axing of the first design forced organisers of the event to put forward the Yokohama Stadium as a replacement venue.
"I’m working on the project with a wish to use lumber from the areas that are going through the reconstruction process," he said.
Kuma’s comments come after International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach met with Abe, where it was agreed that Tokyo 2020 Olympic events could be held in stricken areas in Fukushima.
The area was decimated when an earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with over 16,000 people losing their lives.
Holding baseball and softball in Fukushima is "one plausible option",, said Bach.
Back in March, then Olympics Minister Toshiaki Endo claimed preliminary matches could be staged in the Prefecture, located around 240 kilometres away from Tokyo.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori then revealed he hoped the Torch Relay for the Games would visit areas affected by the tragedy.
"I'd like to make it a Stadium that harmonises with the green of [neighbouring] Meiji Jingu Gaien area, and one that is open to the public," Kuma added.
The location of the Tokyo 2020 flame was flagged as a concern earlier this year due to the venue being partially made out of wood.
It was suggested that the flame, which has to be visible from inside and outside the Stadium as part of IOC regulations, could breach laws set out under the Japanese Fire Service Act.
A place for a Cauldron was not included in plans for the venue, unveiled last December.