Richard Rogers defends Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Olympic stadium
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Richard Rogers steps in to defend Zaha Hadid's scrapped Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium

British architect Richard Rogers says Japan "lost its nerve" in abandoning Zaha Hadid's Olympic stadium design, adding that the decision could damage the country's credibility.

Rogers, who was on the jury that first selected Hadid's design, has released a statement outlining his concern that the decision will significantly impact both the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Japan's reputation.

"I'd like to express my concern about the decision to cancel the Zaha Hadid Architects' (ZHA) design at this late stage," said the statement released yesterday.

"For Japan to lose their nerve now, and abandon a design by one of the world's foremost living architects that was selected by an international jury, will not only result in a poorer quality stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but also in damage to Japan's international credibility, and reputation as a promoter of world-class architectural design."

Zaha Hadid's Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium design
Zaha Hadid's Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium design

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe announced last month that the design of the stadium will be started again from scratch due to spiralling costs.

London-based ZHA later issued its own statement calling for the design to be revised rather than scrapped.

The firm had already modified the initial design following budget changes and criticism from a number of high-profile Japanese architects. Hadid described them as "hypocrites" in an interview with Dezeen last year.


Related content: see more stories about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics


"Every major project faces challenges, but architect and client can almost always work together to resolve them," said Rogers. "If the design needs to change in response to cost or other issues, I am sure that the ZHA team would be willing to make them."

As well as hosting events during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Japan National Stadium is also due to host matches during the Rugby World Cup in 2019, but this may not be possible if Hadid's design is thrown out.

Zaha Hadid's Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium design
Zaha Hadid's Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium design

Rogers was also on the jury that selected the firm in 2004 to design the Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 games, which also faced criticism at the time. "This went through a number of design changes, but has since become an iconic building and popular with the public," he said.

Another controversy hit the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last week, when the designer of its logo was forced to defend himself against plagiarism accusations.