2020 Olympic stadium
A ground breaking ceremony was held on Sunday, December 9th for the new National Stadium, which will be used as the main arena of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the attendance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"We need to make the Tokyo Games the world's greatest event," Abe said in an address. "I hope the National Stadium will be completed with no problems and become a base to communicate culture and sports in a new era."
The Japan Sports Council, the independent administrative agency that will operate the National Stadium in central Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, started the construction of the stadium's main structure on Dec. 1, aiming for completion in November 2019. The Tokyo Olympics will open on July 24, 2020.
Total construction costs stand at about 149 billion yen, nearly $1.5 billion.
The tale of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the new stadium especially, has been an embarrassing muck-up so far. First, out-of-control costs led to the cancellation of the original stadium design after the original construction start date had passed. This ground breaking in December comes 14 months after construction ought to have started. The original plan - the plan accepted by the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires in September 2013 - forecast the completion of the stadium in time to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup as a sort of dry run for the Olympics. Well, that is out of the question now.
Second, to fight runaway costs the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to farm out some sports events to existing facilities outside the city and even around the country in direct contradiction of the original plan’s concept of a ‘small,’ or compact Olympics, with all venues and Athlete’s Village in close proximity. That vision is scuttled now. The Sunday, January 1, 2017 cover story “Olympic price tag to top estimate” reported that the current estimate - ¥1.8 trillion - is already more than twice the original estimate provided to the International Olympic Committee during the bidding process.
Third, there was the fiasco of the Olympic logo. The original Tokyo 2020 logo so closely resembled an advertisement for a Belgian movie theater that a Belgian graphic artist sued the Japan Olympic Committee for plagiarism. I still wonder if Japanese understand the concept of plagiarism. It took months to settle the matter and choose a new graphic design.
Fourth, when a new stadium design was approved (a very conventional, uninspiring stadium) it wasn’t until weeks after the go-ahead that it was noticed that no Olympic torch was provided for in the design. I’m sure they will stick it in there somewhere.