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Japan nixes $2B Olympic stadium

By Amy R. Connolly
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced organizers will scrap plans to build a $2 billion stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympic games and start from scratch. Image courtesy Japan Sport Council
1 of 8 | Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced organizers will scrap plans to build a $2 billion stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympic games and start from scratch. Image courtesy Japan Sport Council

TOKYO, July 17 (UPI) -- Japanese Olympic organizers are scrapping plans to build the most expensive sports venue in Olympic history and starting from scratch after a public outcry over the excessive cost.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday the plans to build a $2 billion national stadium for the 2020 Summer Games are going to be redrawn with a more modest price tag in mind. This means Japan will not be able to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup because the new stadium won't be completed in time.

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"The current plan will go back to being a blank sheet of paper, and we will rethink it from scratch," Abe said.

Controversy over the new stadium has been brewing since Tokyo was selected in 2013 to host the games. The design, which looks similar to a bicycle helmet from one angle and a skate egg case from another, was created by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, who attempted to emphasize compactness in the plan. But the 80,000-seat venue was bigger than the main stadium for the last two Summer Games, in London and Beijing. The expensive retractable roof was seen as extravagant. It is unclear if Hadid will play a part in the new design.

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A spokesman for World Rugby, organizers of the World Cup games, said the group was "extremely disappointed" by the announcement.

"World Rugby is urgently seeking further detailed clarification from the Japan Rugby 2019 Organizing Committee and will need to consider the options relating to the impact of today's announcement," the group said in a statement.

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