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Japan's Olympics stadium plagued by design woes

An artist's impression of Japan's new national stadium with the modified design, which accounts for a reduction in total floor area and height, among others. (PHOTO: JAPAN NATIONAL SPORTS COUNCIL)

An artist's impression of Japan's new national stadium with the modified design, which accounts for a reduction in total floor area and height, among others. (PHOTO: JAPAN NATIONAL SPORTS COUNCIL)

Even as the clock ticks away, controversy continues to rage over the design of Japan's new national stadium, which is to be used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, leading to worries that it may not be completed in time for the Games.

With just six years to go, major decisions have yet to be taken. No completion date has been given. But the earliest that ground-breaking can take place is October 2016, leaving barely three years for a new stadium to be ready for the opening game of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which Japan will host.

But the rumpus continues over whether the stadium, even with a modification of the original design, is a colossal edifice that clashes with the surrounding cityscape of parks and other sporting facilities.

The influential Asahi Shimbun daily, in an editorial late last month, called for fresh debate to deal with the controversy and warned against making hasty decisions.

Japan, it said, has enough fine stadiums for use in the 2019 Rugby World Cup if the new national stadium cannot be up in time.

"Rugby cannot be used as an excuse for any kind of snap decision," the paper said.

British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid won an international competition in November 2012 for the new 80,000-seat stadium, beating 10 other finalists including several Japanese designers.


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