Tokyo selects Japanese design for 2020 Olympic stadium after cost row

The proposed new national stadium "Design A" is seen in this undated handout picture released by Japan Sports Council and obtained by Reuters on Dec 21, 2015.
The proposed new national stadium "Design A" is seen in this undated handout picture released by Japan Sports Council and obtained by Reuters on Dec 21, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan on Tuesday (Dec 22) chose a new 2020 Olympic Stadium design, after an earlier version set off a row over a US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) price tag that would have made it the world's most expensive sports venue.

"I think this is a wonderful plan that meets criteria such as basic principles, construction period and cost," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a special cabinet meeting on the design submitted by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

Two construction plans - Mr Kuma's and a separate one by another Japanese architect - released last week by the Japan Sports Council, which is overseeing the project, showed that the cost would be either approximately 149 billion yen or 149.7 billion yen (S$1.73 billion or S$1.74 billion) respectively.

Both were far below the 265 billion yen estimated under the now-ditched design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. Besides cost, her plan also drew complaints over its design.

Under the new plan, construction is to be completed in November 2019, well before the January 2020 deadline demanded by the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo is due to host the opening ceremony on July 24 that year.