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Japan sports minister to quit over Olympic woes

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan’s sports and education minister, Hakubun Shimomura, has submitted his resignation due to troubles with planning for Tokyo’s National Stadium, a main venue for the 2020 Olympic games.

Shimomura said Friday that he told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he wanted to resign and take responsibility for the problems. He said Abe asked him to stay in office until a Cabinet reshuffle that is expected soon.

Shimomura heads the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which is in charge of overseeing the Olympic Games. He was speaking after an independent panel found he and other officials shared responsibility for problems with planning for the 2020 games.

“It is true that this has caused much concern and inconvenience, and thus I submitted my resignation to Prime Minister Abe,” Shimomura said.

Local media said the report found that decision-making was hindered partly by a council of senior officials, including former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who is president of Tokyo’s organizing committee.

Abe scrapped the original plan for a new stadium to replace one used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in July, saying it was too costly. The design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid raised protests from many in Tokyo who objected to its massive size, cost and ultra-modern shape.

The selection of a new stadium design is due in November. The delays in starting construction have raised the risk the structure may not be ready by early 2020 as promised.

Olympic organizers are also seeking a new logo to replace one that was abandoned amid plagiarism allegations against its designer.

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