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Construction of Tokyo Olympic stadium starts

TOKYO (AFP) – Construction of the main stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics officially started Sunday, more than a year after the original blueprints were torn up following public outcry over skyrocketing costs.

The stadium is due to be completed by the end of November 2019, five months behind schedule.

“I believe, after four years, many athletes will challenge their physical limits at this stadium and empower spectators and the society,’’ said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan approved the new stadium plans in September after Abe scrapped the initial design by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid as costs soared beyond $2 billion.

The 149 billion yen ($1.29 billion) price tag for architect Kengo Kuma’s proposal comes in just under the cap for the contractors, led by construction giant Taisei Corp.

Concerns that ballooning costs could hit a staggering $30 billion – four times the initial estimate and almost triple that of the 2012 London Olympics – have forced organisers to rethink plans for several venues.