Tokyo Stadium Canceled

Japan Rejects Hadid


The design of the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid for the New National Stadium in Tokyo was one of the strong points of the Japanese capital’s bid to host the Olympic Games of the year 2020, which it won over Istanbul and Madrid. But two years later it has become such a burden that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to scrap the project and start from scratch. The reasons offered have been mostly financial in nature, as in spite of modifications carried out in the proposal, the budget never ceased to grow, reaching the figure of 2,000 million United States dollars. Hadid attributed the soaring budget line to the constant increase of construction costs in the Japanese market. But there is no doubt that Abe’s decision was also influenced by public opinion, which by that time was much mobilized against the project thanks to the aggressive campaign instigated by some of Japan’s most renowned architects, including Arata Isozaki, Fumihiko Maki, Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma, and Sou Fujimoto. The criticism has been varied. Some have centered on the sheer size of the stadium, with its arches rising 70 meters, far exceeding the 15 permitted in the historical zone where the site is located. Others have instead questioned the pertinence of raising an altogether new stadium when there are existing ones that could be revamped. And still others, finally, have concentrated on discrediting the project. A case in point is Isozaki, in whose opinion the building is “like a turtle waiting for Japan to sink so that it can swim away,” and would be “a disgrace to future generations.”

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