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Friday, 30th May 2014
In General Japan News,

2020 Olympic Stadium revealed

The final designs of the 2020 Olympic Stadium have been revealed, with the enormous construction set to seat 80,000 people and to include a retractable roof. These specifications were among those revealed to the public this week after Japanese sports chiefs approved the final design, effectively confirming they are happy for construction to begin.

Shaped like an enormous bike helmet, the design was conceived by prize-winning Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. While it's going to be a bold addition to the Tokyo skyline, acclaim has been far from unanimously positive.

Firstly, there is the price, which, at a predicted $1.6 billion, has divided commentators. But there are also concerns about the building's height as it is located in an area with many historical buildings. Members of the government-affiliated Japan Sport Council intervened to reduce the original height from 75 metres to just 70, but campaigners say this is not enough.

"By lowering the height from 75 to 70 metres, we think the design has become great in terms of landscape," said Ichiro Kohno, president of the sport council.

Architect Fumihiko Maki, who designed one of the buildings for the new World Trade Centre complex in New York, has been leading the opposition, suggesting that the already inflated price may well end being much higher.

However, Ms Hadid is far from new to the competitive world of architecture and her commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games comes off the back of her design of the London Aquatics Centre, used in the 2020 Games. She also courted controversy over the design of the Al-Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, which will be used for the 2022 World Cup.

Currently, the 54,000-seat National Stadium occupies the site where the Olympic Stadium will soon stand, with the former due to be dismantled from July 2014 in order to make way for the latter. Completion of the stadium is hoped to be achieved by 2019, the year before the Summer Games commence.

Many of the construction contracts for building the stadium are likely to go to British companies, following prime minister Shinzo Abe's recent trade co-operation deal that will allow firms from the nation to work on the project. Abe said he had confidence that businesses from the UK are capable of delivering on major projects.

The Japan Sport Council is now turning its attention to the facilities visitors will be greeted with just outside the stadium area. It will make use of the many parts that already occupy the area, as well as a grand Shinto shrine that towers over many of the other buildings.

Efforts are already being made throughout Tokyo to prepare the city for the historic sporting event, despite the fact that it is six years away. Within days of the announcement that Japan had succeeded in its bid, the government had confirmed plans to make English street signs more prominent throughout the capital to help lost tourists, and restaurants were encourage to introduce menus in a variety of languages.

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