Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium design chosen (renderings)

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TOKYO (AP) — Japan chose a scaled-down design Tuesday for the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, five months after scrapping the initial design and construction plan for being too costly.

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, will still cost 153 billion yen ($1.26 billion) to design, build and maintain. The initial stadium proposal would have cost 252 billion yen ($2.1 billion), making it the most expensive stadium ever built.

Kuma’s combined steel and wood structure, with a relatively flat roof with shrubbery along its outer concourses, echoes traditional temple designs. It stands 50 meters (164 feet) tall, with the track and field below ground level.

“This is a wonderful plan which meets the basic vision in the new construction plan and requirements for construction period and the budget,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in announcing the choice.

Tuesday’s announcement was a major step for organizers, who were forced to start over on a new design less than five years before the 2020 Games.

The scrapping of the initial stadium plan forced the 2019 Rugby World Cup to change venues, and the late change had raised concerns about whether it could even be completed in time for the Olympics.

Organizers also had to deal with a plagiarism scandal over the logo for the event, and an investigation last month found backroom dealings in the selection process.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the design selection process was more transparent than that for the previous stadium plan, and also addressed the main problems: cost and post-Olympic use.

The winning project will be led by major construction company Taisei Corp. Lead architect Kuma, known for his Japanese aesthetic, has also designed Tokyo’s kabuki theater that was renewed in 2013.

Officials said the design won by a small margin over the alternative plan led by architect Toyo Ito and three construction companies Takenaka, Shimizu and Obayashi.

Suga said Kuma’s plan was superior because of its ample environmental consideration and a possibility of shrinking the construction period.

The original plan by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid was criticized for its massive cost and scale.

Hadid said Japan’s scrapping of her plan was “shocking” and that she said it was not about design or budget.

“In fact much of our two years of detailed design work and the cost savings we recommended have been validated by the remarkable similarities of our original detailed stadium layout and our seating bowl configuration with those of the design announced today,” she said in a statement to The Associated Press.

A look at the old and new designs:

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COST

New: 153 billion yen ($1.23 billion)

Old: 252 billion yen ($2.08 billion)

— Cost of new plan includes 149 billion yen for construction and 4 billion yen for design and maintenance

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CAPACITY

New: 68,000 seats, expandable after the Olympics to 80,000

Old: 80,000 seats for the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup in 2019

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HEIGHT

New: 49.2 meters (161 feet)

Old: 70 meters (230 feet)

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AREA

New: 72,400 square meters

Old: 78,100 square meters

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CONSTRUCTION PERIOD

New: 36 months (from Dec. 2016 to Nov. 2019)

Old: 45 months (from Sept. 2015 to May 2019)

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CONCEPT

New: “Giant tree of life” that connects with greenery of nearby Meiji Shrine

Old: Futuristic stadium with world-class hospitality

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LOOK

New: A wood and iron roof inspired by traditional Japanese architecture, and greenery in its outer-facing walls

Old: A pair of giant arches supporting a high-tech roof, likened by some to a bicycle helmet or oyster shell

MORE: Tokyo 2020 proposes additional Olympic sports

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium
(Top: New design; Bottom: Old design) AP
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium
AP
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium
AP

Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
Getty
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Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

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Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

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France’s Alexis Pinturault won the world Alpine skiing championships combined at his home venue after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew a lead in the final seconds of his slalom run.

Pinturault, a 31-year-old who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years (the longest drought of his distinguished career), prevailed by one tenth of a second over the Austrian Schwarz in Courchevel, France.

“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.

Austrian Raphael Haaser took bronze in an event that combined times from a morning super-G run and an afternoon slalom run, one day after his older sister took bronze in the women’s combined.

River Radamus was fourth, a quarter of a second from becoming the first U.S. man to win an Alpine worlds medal since 2015. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds.

“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.

Five skiers finished within 2.98 seconds of the winner in an event that has been dropped from the annual World Cup schedule and is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Pinturault had the fastest super-G run by six hundredths over Schwarz. Schwarz, a slightly better slalom skier than Pinturault, erased that deficit early in the slalom and had a three tenths lead at the last intermediate split.

He gave it all away about six gates from the finish, slamming on the brakes. Moments later, he crossed the finish line one tenth behind Pinturault, who reacted by pumping his fists in the air.

The Frenchman earned his first race victory since the March 2021 World Cup Finals giant slalom, where he clinched his first World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Last season, Pinturault went winless on the World Cup for the first time since he was a teenage rookie in 2011, plus went medal-less at the Olympics.

Pinturault, who grew up in Courchevel and now co-owns the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna there, had retirement cross his mind in the offseason, according to Eurosport. He skipped a pre-worlds Sunday press conference due to illness.

Nonetheless, Pinturault was on the front page of French newspapers this week, including L’Equipe on Tuesday. In a sports cover story for Le Figaro, Pinturault said that, given the circumstances, it would be almost a “nice surprise” to go for a medal at these worlds.

Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G.

Olympic silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Jack Crawford of Canada were among the speed specialists who did not start the slalom. They essentially used the event as a training run for Thursday’s super-G.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the women’s super-G, where Mikaela Shiffrin is a medal contender but not the favorite. She can tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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