Japan talks to sidelined Olympic Stadium architect

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TOKYO: Japan confirmed Friday that it was in talks with the architect of the rejected 2020 Olympic stadium design, after her firm reportedly refused to hand over the copyright in return for payment.

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Tokyo last month chose a new, slimmed down plan for the centrepiece stadium after an earlier version designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid set off a row over its eye-watering $2 billion price tag that would have made it the world’s most expensive sports venue.

“We are in talks with Zaha Hadid Architects over rewards for business generated until the termination of the contract,” Noriko Tada, spokeswoman for the Japan Sport Council (JSC), which is overseeing the project, told AFP.

She declined to comment on details of the discussions, citing confidentiality.

Hadid’s firm received and rejected a request by the JSC to give up all copyrights regarding the Olympic stadium in return for payment for her design work, Jiji Press reported Thursday.

The JSC also demanded that the London-based firm not comment further on the stadium if it received the payment, a request it also rejected, Jiji said.

The London-based firm has demanded the JSC start negotiations over copyright issues, claiming there are “significant similarities” between the structure and layout of her original design and the new one by a joint venture led by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, according to Jiji.

Hadid’s firm did not immediately respond to an e-mail from AFP seeking comment.
Tokyo’s preparations for the global games suffered a humiliating setback last year when the government pulled the plug on Hadid’s stadium plan following spiralling costs and complaints over the design.

Under the new plan, construction is to be completed in November 2019, ahead of the January 2020 deadline demanded by the International Olympic Committee.
Tokyo is due to host the opening ceremony on July 24 that year.

In a statement last month when the new design was announced, Hadid said: “Much of our two years of detailed design work and the cost savings we recommended have been validated by the remarkable similarities of our original detailed stadium layout and our seating bowl configuration with those of the design announced today.”

“This shocking treatment of an international design and engineering team … was not about design or budget,” she added.

AFP

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