The firm of architects whose design for Japan's new Olympic stadium was scrapped offer their version of what went wrong with the project - saying warnings on cost overruns were ignored. Ciara Lee reports.
It's the design that helped Japan win the 2020 summer Olympics. The centre piece for the Games was supposed to be designed by London-based Zaha Hadid Architects. But costs for the stadium soared to 2.1 billion dollars and their contract was cancelled. The company says it worked hard to reduce the bill, but that rising construction costs and Japan's process for assigning project contractors made that difficult. Jim Heverin was the stadium project's director. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF THE NEW NATIONAL STADIUM, ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS, JIM HEVERIN, SAYING: "That demand creates an unpredictable inflation, which is quite difficult to price as estimators. It's not until you engage with the market you really get their indication of what they think the price is. And in this particular case the client engaged in early contractor engagement, which meant that it really ruled out the competitive aspect of tender." The cost of the project sparked outrage in Japan and prompted a change of heart by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan's economy is beginning to recover but it follows years of hard times. Tokyo's 2020 Games chief has formally apologised to the International Olympic Committee for the change. It will now monitor the new stadium. But the original architects say legacy intentions - making sure stadium resources can be reused in the future - could get overlooked. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF THE NEW NATIONAL STADIUM, ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS, JIM HEVERIN, SAYING: "What Japan is now thinking of is a much more shorter and rushed design, led by a contractor. And I think the focus will be on delivering something for the Olympics and not really thinking about what happens afterwards." Organisers now face a race against time to get it ready for the Games - and the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which was expected to be held there, is now in search of a new venue.