Tokyo must act now to build legacy for venues beyond 2020 Olympics, says London Games exec

Tokyo must act now to build legacy for venues beyond 2020 Olympics, says London Games exec

Tokyo must act now to develop a vision for the new National Stadium and other Olympic venues that reaches decades beyond the 2020 Games.
That’s the advice of David Edmonds, chairman of London Legacy Development Corp. (LLDC), a public body responsible for the development and
management of the 225-hectare complex that hosted the 2012 London Olympics.
“Think early, make decisions knowing that this is going to stick for 20, 30, 40 years, and try to build a stadium that has a long-term use,” Edmonds told The Japan Times in a telephone interview.
LLDC was established six months before the 2012 Games to prevent London’s Olympic venues from slipping into the same state of weed-strewn disuse that blighted Athens after 2004.
LLDC has since renovated the showpiece Olympic Stadium for use by British Athletics and Premier League soccer team West Ham United. It has also refurbished and reopened the various Olympic venues for use by professional events and members of the public alike.
More than 8 million people have visited the complex — renamed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park — since the London Games ended, with housing developers, businesses, universities, museums and other cultural centers also moving into the area.
With less than five years to go until Tokyo lights the 2020 Olympic flame, Edmonds is urging his Japanese counterparts to make full use of their time.
“The lesson I would draw were I to do it again is that I think it would be a really good idea to put the legacy corporation in place not just six months before the game, but actually from now,” Edmonds said.
“Work alongside the delivery authority so you can really think through what you’re going to use everything for.”
Tokyo 2020 organizers are currently formulating their Action & Legacy Plan, which will be finalized next year and unveiled before the Rio Olympics in August.
“London should be proud of the way they hosted a wonderful 2012 Games,” said Tokyo 2020 Executive Director of Communications and Engagement Hidetoshi Fujisawa.
“The games created memories for millions of people and left a positive legacy. It inspired Tokyo as a candidate city, and is still inspiring Tokyo now it has (become) a host city. We have learned from all of these accomplishments and we are incorporating them into our own plans.”
Tokyo’s legacy plans will include the long-term use of the new National Stadium, which is still at the planning stage, having been sent back to the drawing board by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July amid spiraling costs.
Several of the proposed 2020 venues have also changed since Tokyo beat Istanbul and Madrid for the right to host the games, with some events now set to be held in existing venues outside the capital in a bid to save money.
“The big message I have is to really think ahead about what you want to use the facilities for,” said Edmonds, who has been on the LLDC board since its inception and took over as chairman last month.
“Don’t just focus on creating a great stadium for three or four weeks.”
He continued, “Basically, the legacy corporation is about ensuring that the huge capital investment that goes into the three or four weeks that the games actually happen is used for the community going forward. And, perhaps more importantly, is used as a springboard for new development, providing jobs, providing housing, providing cultural opportunities.”
The Japan Sport Council on Monday confirmed that the construction of the National Stadium has been further delayed and will not begin until 2017, leaving only three years to meet the January 2020 completion date called for by the International Olympic Committee.
The JSC is set to announce the winning design consortium in late December, but Edmonds believes that starting with a clean slate is not such a bad thing.
“I think it’s more of an opportunity than a challenge,” he said. “If I were sitting there thinking: ‘I’ve only got five years and I have to get on with it,’ I would be thinking as hard about what I was going to do with it after 2020 as I was about what to do with it for the four weeks that it’s actually being used by the games.”
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was transformed over 18 months after the London Games, and features 6 hectares of woodland and 6.5 km of waterways.
Planning permission has been granted for 6,800 houses in the park, and LLDC estimates that 15,000 jobs will be created by 2025.
The Olympic Stadium has hosted various sporting events since the 2012 Games, including five matches at this year’s Rugby World Cup. But critics argue that the £272 million spent converting the stadium, largely from public funds, should have included a greater contribution from West Ham.
“At the heart of your park, the stadium which everyone will see during the games needs to go on living after the games,” said Edmonds. “Not as a monument but as something that every week people come into and use.”
Edmonds said that LLDC Chief Executive David Goldstone accompanied London Mayor Boris Johnson on his recent trip to Tokyo, and pledged to continue to offer advice to 2020 organizers.
But he also believes that matching London’s legacy standards will be a tall order.
“Right through the middle of the park is a wonderful green area, renewed waterways, flowers, places for people to walk and enjoy themselves,” he said.
“Since the games, we’ve actually had 8 million people come through the park. That’s a staggering statistic and puts into context that picture of the weed-ridden stadium in Athens. We don’t think there’s any other legacy in the world anywhere near to matching that.”


CULLED FROM JAPANTIMES