Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has brushed aside reports that the Japanese government is considering tearing up its contract for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics stadium
Last weekend, Japanese newspaper Sports Hochi claimed the AJ120 International Practice of the Year Award would be removed from the job unless it modified its design to reduce costs and speed up construction.
The alleged ultimatum – which follows the recent scaling-down of the Games centrepiece – is a response to fears construction may still overshoot the 2019 Rugby World Cup which Japan is hosting.
In a statement issued yesterday (8 June), ZHA however rejected the claims: ‘Our client, the Japan Sport Council (JSC) confirms that, together with the Japanese Government, they intend to retain Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) on the New National Stadium in Tokyo until completion in 2019.’
The statement continued: ‘The New National Stadium gives the people of Japan a much-needed venue of the highest standards for use by many future generations of Japan’s sporting bodies and community associations, their millions of members, participants and fans.
‘The stadium’s design ensures it will be user-focused, productive and sustainable well beyond Tokyo 2020.’
The 80,000-capacity stadium project has been repeatedly in the headlines ever since Hadid defeated a raft of international stars to win the job two years ago.
Last summer the venue was scaled down and redesigned after a petition – led by Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma and Sou Fujimoto – received more than 32,000 signatures calling for it to be scrapped.
Opponents claimed the original design – planned to replace Tokyo’s now-demolished 1964 Olympic national stadium – was ‘oversized’ and would have a negative impact on the nearby Meiji Shrine gardens.
However the smaller-scale design was also met with criticism from one of Japan’s most famous architects, Arata Isozaki who warned it could be a ‘monumental mistake’ and a ‘disgrace to future generations’.
Last week Japan’s sports minister Hakubun Shimomura suggested construction of the retractable roof could be delayed until after the Olympics.
According to Reuters, Shimomura has since vowed the entire project will be completed on time after IOC President Thomas Bach raised concerns over the stadium.
He said: ‘We will make sure that it will be completed in spring 2019 so that we will not lose trust from the international community.’
A group of architects led by Fumihiko Maki has meanwhile revealed alternative plans for an open-roofed stadium – featuring 60,000 seats and 20,000 temporary seats – which they claim could be delivered quicker, cheaper and with two-thirds less running costs.