The drama over the new Tokyo National Stadium is far from over. As first reported in The Telegraph, the Japan Sports Council (JSC) has demanded that Zaha Hadid, whose previous design for the stadium was scrapped due to predicted cost overruns, hand over the copyright to her design. This request, along with a "gag order" that would prevent anybody at her firm, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), including herself, from discussing the stadium design and construction or making any "detrimental or derogatory comments," are being requested before an already-overdue payment for the firm's previously completed work is made.
According to a source quoted in The Telegraph, the demands are not only "tantamount to extortion," but suggest that the original could have been built on time and within budget constraints, and that the new design draws heavily on the original.
The firm has been chasing months of payment for a team of more than 100 architects and engineers. The request to sign a new contract with the updated language and demands is now a prerequisite for payment from the JSC.
Many aspects of Kuma's new design, such as the internal design and stadium bowl, are considered by many to be similar to ZHA's work, and same two construction firms that worked with the original design, Azusa Sekkei and Taisei, will be building Kuma's design.
ZHA has since sent a letter to Toshiaki Endo, the Japanese minister overseeing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, according to The Telegraph, claiming their design would be "exploited," adding:
"It may be convenient for those who have benefitted from our humiliation to want us to be quiet, but until the matter is publicly addressed, we cannot support a process and project which damaged us so wrongfully." Zaha Hadid Architects is currently consulting with lawyers and will explore legal action if its concerns aren't met.