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Funding deal agreed for Tokyo’s new National Stadium

A funding plan has today (Tuesday) been agreed for Tokyo’s new National Stadium after months of dispute over the development of the centrepiece for the Japanese capital’s staging of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Under the agreement between the central and metropolitan governments, the Tokyo city government will be liable for a quarter of the envisaged Y158bn (€1.21bn/$1.28bn) cost of the new stadium. This means the Tokyo government will pay Y39.5bn of the total cost, while the national government will pay Y79.1bn and proceeds from a national sports lottery will cover the remaining amount.

Tokyo's Governor, Yoichi Masuzoe (pictured), agreed to the plan after talks with Japan’s Olympics Minister Toshiaki Endo and Sports and Education Minister Hiroshi Hase. Masuzoe accepted the proposal, saying the agreement was a result of marathon discussions between the metropolitan and central governments.

“As the governor of the city to host the Olympic competition in 2020, I would like to accept the budget plan,” Masuzoe said, according to the Japan Times newspaper, adding that the stadium will remain a legacy of the Olympics and bring long-term advantages for Tokyo residents.

The Associated Press news agency added that the city will also cover some related costs, such as a pedestrian walkway and maintenance for the stadium, which is expected to become a national landmark and recreation site after the 2020 Games.

Today’s news is the latest development in what has been a drawn-out and contentious affair. Japan’s former Sports Minister Hakubun Shimomura resigned in September in the wake of the furore caused by the decision to open a new design process for the National Stadium, after an independent panel found he and other officials shared responsibility for problems with planning for the 2020 Games.

The original vision for the National Stadium was scrapped in July when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the price tag for the original development had become too costly at Y250bn. Abe and the government had come under increasing pressure from the public to scale back costs.

The government has begun to accept new bids for the project, which will be reduced in capacity from 72,000 to 68,000, with another 12,000 seats to be added if Japan decides to bid to host a future edition of football’s Fifa World Cup. The delays have already cost the stadium its intended place as the focal point of Japan’s hosting of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Japan Sport Council now hopes to choose a new design proposal by the end of the year, and then develop detailed plans with a view to commencing construction work in early 2017.