Tokyo breaks ground on £1.2bn national stadium for 2020 Olympics

12 December 2016

Tokyo has held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $1.5bn (£1.2bn) national stadium that will host the 2020 Olympic Games.

The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, and other dignitaries attended the event on Sunday at the site of the demolished national stadium that was used during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. They launched the construction of the stadium by putting their hands on a glass sphere that rotated through pastels of the colours of the Olympic logo

The ceremony ended with a video showing how the stadium is expected to look and function once completed by November 2019.

Work on the stadium in the centre of the city fell behind schedule because the government scrapped controversial plans for a dramatic Zaha Hadid-designed $2bn stadium envisioned as the focal point of the 2020 Games amid concerns about rising costs and a growing public backlash.

Koike took office in July pledging to use her platform to host a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly Olympics. She has lambasted organisers of the 2020 Games for failing to keep costs under control.

An expert panel she appointed put the price tag of the 2020 Games at more than $30bn , barring drastic cost-cutting measures, more than a four-fold increase from the initial estimate when the city was awarded the Games in 2013.

Fans of the old stadium, built in the late 1950s, lobbied to keep and renovate it, but the government opted to replace it with a more modern facility.

Kengo Kuma, the architect of the new stadium, chose a wooden lattice design that echoes traditional styles seen in Japanese shrines and pagodas. It is intended to blend in with surrounding parkland and will be structured to minimise costs for heating and cooling.

The structure will use Japanese-grown larch in its wood and steel composite roof and prefabricated panels to help speed the work along and contain costs.