Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized for squandering billions of yen in public funds on plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium.
Japan faces a bill for around 6.2 billion yen (HK$385.6 million) after Abe ordered the original plans to be torn up amid mounting public anger over costs.
“As a result of the decision to go back to the drawing board, precious public funds have been spent,” Abe told parliament. “I apologize deeply to the people of Japan.”
Japan pulled the plug on Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid’s design after the price tag ballooned to more than US$2 billion (HK$15.6 billion), putting it on course to become the most expensive sports stadium in the world.
Abe rejected opposition calls for him to sack Sports Minister Hakubun Shimomura over the scandal, however, saying: “We will fulfil our responsibilities by making sure the Olympics are a success.”
Olympics Minister Toshiaki Endo heads a panel tasked with reviewing the stadium plan after the bill for the showpiece venue nearly doubled, largely due to rising labor and material costs.
To put the inflated price tag in context, London spent around US$680 million on its 2012 Olympic stadium, while Beijing’s 2008 Bird’s Nest venue cost some US$500 million.