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Tokyo 2020 President blasts Sports Minister for National Stadium flame debacle


The row over the placement of the Olympic Cauldron in the new National Stadium has intensified after Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori blamed Sports Minister Hiroshi Hase for the latest issue to plague preparations for the Games in four years’ time.

The location of the flame caused concern as the venue, set to be the centrepiece of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, is partially made out of wood.

It was suggested that the flame, which has to be visible from inside and outside the Stadium as part of International Olympic Committee regulations, could breach laws set out under the Japanese Fire Service Act.

These suggestions were dismissed, however, by Kengo Kuma, the architect of the National Stadium, who moved to allay fears that the Olympic Cauldron could pose a fire risk yesterday.

He claimed that “there are various methods [to set it up] and that there was no need to worry”.

A place for a Cauldron was not included in plans for the venue, revealed in December after the initial design was axed due to public outrage over rising costs.

Kuma has confirmed that work is underway to find a suitable place to house the Cauldron and said the Japanese Fire Service Act restrictions would have to be lifted for the Games in Tokyo.

Mori, a former Japanese Prime Minister chosen to head up the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee in 2014, has laid blame solely at the feet of Hase and the Japan Sports Council (JSC), who signed a contract worth ¥2.5 billion (£15.4 million/$22 million/€19.9 million) with the constructors of the Stadium in January.

The 78-year-old also revealed he had held talks with IOC President Thomas Bach about the possibility of using the cauldron from the 1964 Games, the last to be hosted by Tokyo, when the event returns to the Japanese capital in 2020.

“The Sports Minister who supervises the JSC has to be held responsible,” Mori told Kyodo News.

“We’ve had nothing reported on the issue.

“It would make no sense not to think about the Olympic Cauldron if the stadium was getting built for the Olympics.”

The debacle over the location of the cauldron marked the latest hurdle for organisers ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games after the initial plans for the Stadium, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha-Hadid, were scrapped following the costs rising to double the initial estimates.

The new Stadium is due to be built by November 2019, two months earlier than expected, according to Japanese organisers.

Delays caused by the original design being axed, however, mean it will not be ready in time for Japan’s hosting of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

  • By Liam Morgan
  • Republished with permission insidethegames.biz



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