KUALA LUMPUR - Olympic officials have told Japan there was no need to apologise for scrapping their original proposal for a new national stadium in Tokyo but they still need to get a hurry on to have it ready in time for the 2020 Olympics.
Tokyo 2020 Games chief Yoshiro Mori issued a formal apology to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Saturday after plans for the city's new Olympic stadium were scrapped because of escalating costs.
Japan will instead build a much cheaper model, which is still to be agreed on, but it won't be finished until April 2020, just three months before the start of the Tokyo Games.
The IOC, which has recently introduced new reforms encouraging host cities to find ways of cutting costs, said it welcomed Tokyo's decision to save cash but time was still a factor. "We highly respect this gesture," IOC President Thomas Bach said. "But we do not think there is an apology needed for a change of circumstances which is beyond your control. "We want to tell you that the IOC is standing by your side." Japan had ambitious plans to build the most expensive stadium in the world but aborted the project when costs ballooned out of control, partly because of a sharp rise in the cost of imported building materials and a labour shortage.
Tokyo's biggest concern now is time. Under the original plan, the stadium would have been ready in 2019 but that has been delayed until early 2020.
IOC vice-president John Coates, who is head of the co-ordination commission for Tokyo, said the organisers were on track with everything else and he had nothing but praise for the way things were progressing. "We'd have liked the stadium to have commenced but we couldn't run and they couldn't run with those costs so we've just got to make sure we work with them to make sure the next design isn't expensive and that it's finished on time but everything else they've been very good," Coates told Reuters. "(We're) Very happy, good commercial support, actually the amount of money being spent on new venues is very small compared to recent cities and they're a good team to work with."