New National Stadium, Tokyo Japan

Dear Mr. Coates:

We are very happy with the news reports about your successful visit to Tokyo last month. Your frequent remarks encouraging the use of existing facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics inspired confidence in the IOC’s commitment to sustainability.

However, we are concerned about the disturbing contradiction between what Mr. Yoshiro Mori, President of the Organising Committee, said when he commented on your Commission’s visit and his remarks to a Japanese newspaper. We ask you to reaffirm the IOC’s commitment to sustainability with the Japanese organizing bodies and to remind them of President Mori’s promise to review proposed plans.

When speaking to the English press, President Mori appears to respect your advice to use existing facilities. But in fact, he intends no additional review of proposed Olympic venues. He has given a free hand to the Japan Sports Council (JSC) to demolish the present national stadium. This move is a violation of the Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21 and renders the currently proceeding discussions around Olympic Agenda 2020 meaningless.

We are writing on behalf of all the members of the Open Platform for Sustainable Society (OPSS), a voluntary group seeking transparency and consensus in the planning process of the Olympic stadium and other important public projects in Japan. Sachihiko Harashina, Dean, Faculty of Policy Informatics, Chiba University of Commerce, Prof. Emer., Tokyo Institute of Technology, chairs this eminent group of academicians and environmentalists.

Let us explain what President Mori said to the English media and how it differs from what he said to the Japanese press. 

Here are President Mori’s remarks in the article, Successful first visit for IOC Coordination Commission to Tokyo, which appeared in Around the Rings (ATR), 06/27/14. Of the venue plan review, President Mori said, “ I informed the Coordination Commission that, based on such aspects as the kind of legacy we will leave, the impact of the Games on the lives of Tokyo residents and the cost of construction and maintenance of the venues, the Organising Committee will examine all issues closely and collaborate with the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and both domestic and international sports federations, to ensure the success of the Games.”

The same article continued: “The local organizers also took this opportunity to update the IOC on their on-going review of their bid plans, including the venues. …… The objective is to refine the legacy and operational assumptions of Tokyo’s plans. The Tokyo organizers are looking to ensure that their Games leave a sustainable long-term legacy to the host city and its citizens. The review is being carried out in cooperation with all the key national and international stakeholders.”

We contend that any review of plans ended some time ago. To a reporter for the Tosei Shimpo, a Japanese newspaper specializing in Tokyo-focused news, President Mori denied any review of the proposed new national stadium. The article appeared in the paper’s June 27, 2014 issue, quoting his remarks that there will be no further venue changes other than those discussed at the preliminary meeting with the Coordination Commission on June 24, 2014 and that the IOC said the review should not drag on for ever.

In keeping with President Mori’s denial, the JSC has stripped the stadium benches and sold them. (Please see the first step to the stadium’s demolition in the attached clipping from the Asahi dated Saturday, July 5, 2014.)

Although demolition has been briefly postponed by the failure of bidding as the JSC miscalculated the vast cost of it, the second bidding deadline Wednesday, July 16, is looming. The JSC is clearly proceeding with its plan to dismantle the stadium.

The present stadium is perfectly renewable and usable for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Renovating this stadium will set an impressive standard for future Olympic stadiums and many other stadiums and public buildings all over Japan. Moreover, the whole of Jingu Gaien, where the stadium is located, is a historic and cultural preservation district. Architects engaged in the past development projects have successfully struggled to preserve the area’s beautiful landscaping and verdant environment as Mr. Fumihiko Maki did with the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

The JSC’s rush to destroy the existing stadium is contrary to the IOC’s policy of sustainability and legacies. President Mori’s laissez-faire attitude to the JSC suggests that he does not really respect the IOC’s guidelines.

The JSC invited representatives of architectural societies for a meeting on Monday, July 7 and declared no change in the proposed new national stadium plan except some small details. Mr. Maki and several other architects refused to attend for reasons of discussions held behind the closed doors and the elimination of citizen representatives.

With a keen awareness of the need for more open, constructive discussions and planning for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, we are organizing a series of symposia. A broad cross-section of speakers, media reporters, and ordinary citizens will participate. The serial events, The Matrix of sustainability Assessment, will begin on Friday, July 11. We will keep you informed of the outcomes of our discussions.

We ask you to exert your influence with the JSC and its supervisory organizations, including the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japan Olympic Committee, and the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. Remind them that the IOC means it when it recommends using existing facilities for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Please order the Organising Committee to stop the stadium demolition. They have not conducted a proper environmental impact assessment for this project. A proper EIA procedure based on the international standards requires comparison of the proposed project with alternative options including the renovation of existing facilities.

We trust that your leadership under the Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21 will guide the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the JSC in a desirable direction along the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement.

Sincerely yours,

Sachihiko Harashina
Dean, Dr., Faculty of Policy Informatics,
Chiba University of Commerce
Chair, the Open Platform for
Sustainable Society

The Open Platform for Sustainable Societies

by fukimison | 2014-07-09 23:08  

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