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Tokyo 2020 chief apologises for stadium saga, with IOC set to monitor plans

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has formally apologised to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the saga surrounding the development of the city’s new National Stadium.

Organisers this month scrapped the chosen design by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) amid concerns over spiralling costs for the venue that was intended to serve as the centrepiece for both the 2020 Olympic Games and 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Mori presented a progress report to the IOC Executive Board today (Wednesday) and said Japan’s review of stadium plans had been accepted by the organisation.

“I extended my sincere apologies that we had to change the plan,” Mori said, according to the Reuters news agency. “(IOC) President Thomas Bach gave us his support and confidence. Any plan has to have room for improvement and it is natural to improve the plan and the IOC will give its full support for the improvement.

“Bach has expectations that we can improve the plan. He gave us encouragement to work hard to complete the stadium by Games time. He said this cannot be left to the Japanese government alone. The IOC said it would now be part of the new stadium tender to help monitor its progress.”

The original plans were shelved despite the Japan Sports Council committing to a design with a price tag of Y252bn (€1.84bn/$2.03bn). If the project had gone ahead, this would have made Tokyo’s new National Stadium the most expensive sports venue of all time.

ZHA said on Tuesday that its warnings to Tokyo 2020 over an uncompetitive selection process for building contractors that would directly lead to steeper costs had gone unheeded, while Bach today confirmed the IOC will oversee the forthcoming tender for the development of the Tokyo venue.

"We have made it very clear here that we want to be involved in the tender," Bach said. "So the tender is worded in a way that all Olympic requirements are taken into consideration and that there are no surprises in half a year or a year."

He added: “We understand the fact that they have seen dramatic changes in construction costs compared to the time of bidding. They have gone through the roof. This is beyond the control of the Organising Committee and the government. So we respect this decision and we know that they will deliver a state-of-the-art stadium for the athletes.”

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto noted calls for a cheaper stadium have come amid a rise in construction costs since Japan won the bid in 2013. He said: “There is a surge in prices for various construction material. There is higher cost and we will focus on cost reduction.

“There will be an inflation (of prices) but we will make sure we minimise that. For us, the priority is to have it completed before the Olympics. We are sure and confident the stadium will be completed on time.”