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Tokyo Olympic stadium contract finally approved

The Japanese government today (Friday) approved a $1.5bn (€1.3bn) contract for the main Olympic stadium in Tokyo for the 2020 Games, paving the way for construction work on the delayed project to begin in December.

The original project, spearheaded by late architect Zaha Hadid, was scrapped by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July 2015 due to rocketing costs.

A new design by Kengo Kuma & Associates was selected following a second tender process in December of last year. Kuma’s design for Tokyo’s new national stadium was submitted by a consortium that also featured engineering company Taisei Corporation and construction support services provider Azusa Sekkei.

According to the government-funded Japan Sport Council, the project is now set to be completed at the end of November 2019. The stadium was originally earmarked as a host venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but the local organising committee rearranged plans following the problems with the original project.

The cost of the new project is just under a $1.55bn ceiling implemented by the organisers of the event. The stadium will have a capacity of 68,000 rather than 72,000 as before, with the option of adding 12,000 seats if Japan hosts football’s Fifa World Cup in the future.

“For the burden we have to share, I will ensure it's utilised for the people of Tokyo, and raise my voice when necessary,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said.

A city-appointed panel of experts warned in a report released yesterday that the cost of hosting the Olympics might yet reach $30bn without further cost-cutting measures.