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Bloated budget could shrink Tokyo's Olympic stadium

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Japan's Olympics minister has called for Tokyo's planned Olympic stadium to be scaled down. Hakubun Shimomura told Japan's parliament that the planned ¥300 billion ($3 billion) cost for the stadium and surrounding infrastructure was "too massive a budget," and that the government would "need to consider downsizing it."

Tokyo's Olympic stadium was scheduled to cost $3 billion

Minister Shimomura clarified his statements, saying that although his ministry would keep the original design — created by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid — and the stadium would meet International Olympic Committee guidelines, they would "look into scaling back peripherals."

The Olympic stadium's original budget was less than half of the current figure, but grew by an extra ¥170 billion as the costs of demolition and infrastructure creation became clear. The existing national stadium — built for the 1964 Olympics — will be knocked down next year to make room for the planned building. The rest of the site is currently a park: such space and greenery, as Reuters points out, is a precious commodity in central Tokyo.

The downscaling comes after experts and architects complained

Shimomura's comments come after a cabal of experts raised complaints over the scale of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics' central stadium. Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Fumihiko Maki recently requested the stadium be rethought to be "more sustainable," claiming he had the support of a hundred prominent figures. Maki questioned the project's "damaging effects on historical scenery," queried the "exorbitant" cost of construction and management, and raised concerns about evacuation from the stadium in the case of natural disaster.

Jim Heverin — a director at Zaha Hadid's London-based architectural firm — told the Associated Press that his company's stadium would fit in with existing buildings, and its "flexible" nature meant it would "get used more." The AP reports that Heverin welcomed the debate, saying "design is subjective."