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Tokyo chooses bike helmet stadium

(AFP) / 15 November 2012

Japanese sports chiefs on Thursday approved a huge bicycle helmet-style design for their new national stadium, which Tokyo hopes will play centre stage if it wins the right to host the 2020 Olympics.

The structure, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, with a retractable roof and seating for 80,000 people, is expected to cost around 130 billion yen ($1.62 billion).

The stadium needs to be ready for 2019, when Japan hosts the rugby World Cup, and for the Olympics the following year if Tokyo beats off competition from Madrid and Istanbul.

The new venue will be built on the site of the existing 54,000-seater national stadium in central Tokyo, the centrepiece of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The government-funded Japan Sport Council, which runs the stadium, selected the design in an international competition which brought together works by 46 architects.

Hadid, who designed the Aquatics Centre for this year’s London Olympics, was awarded 20 million yen ($250,000) as the winner’s prize.

As well as having the same seating capacity as Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium and an all-weather roof, architects were told the new structure would have to be environmentally efficient and match the surrounding landscape.

“It has dynamism, which is most essential to sport and its streamlined shape fits its internal space. It is also new in terms of structural technology,” said Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who chaired the competition jury.

Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda, who is also president of the Tokyo bid committee, welcomed the decision, saying the new structure will be “the best of the best” and “the first all-weather Olympic Stadium”.

The International Olympic Committee will vote to choose the 2020 Olympic venue in Buenos Aires in September next year. Tokyo and Istanbul are widely seen as front-runners.

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