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Hakubun Shimomura, the Japanese sports minister, has resigned over canceled plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid’s original design was ditched in July as estimated building costs almost doubled, reaching $2 billion.

Hakubun Shimomura said he had been asked to stay on until a planned cabinet reshuffle, but would repay some salary.

A new stadium design is due to be chosen by November.

Concerns have already been raised about whether that design will be completed in time for 2020 – the first time Tokyo has hosted the Summer Games since 1964.

As well as objections to its ballooning cost, Zaha Hadid’s design was criticized by some in Tokyo for its similarly huge size and its unusual shape.

A close ally of conservative PM Shinzo Abe, Hakubun Shimomura runs the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which is in charge of overseeing the Olympic Games.Japan Sports Minister Hakubun Shimomura Resigns

Speaking at a press conference at his ministry following a meeting with the prime minister, Hakubun Shimomura said he told Shinzo Abe he wanted to take responsibility for the stadium problems.

“It is true that this has caused much concern and inconvenience,” he said.

Hakubun Shimomura added that he had first heard of the inflating costs and delays in April, “which is why I have decided to return the six months’ worth of pay I have received from that day onwards”.

His offer to quit came after an independent investigation into the fiasco.

Local reports said the panel pinned responsibility on the government body overseeing the project, the Japan Sports Council, and Hakubun Shimomura’s ministry. Former PM Yoshiro Mori, president of Tokyo’s organizing committee, was also blamed.

Plans to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup have also been thrown into doubt by the cancelation of Zaha Hadid’s original plans, as organizers now have to find an alternative final venue.

Olympic organizers are also looking for a new logo, after a Belgian artist complained that a logo he designed for a theater had been copied.

Those allegations have been denied by both Olympic organizers and the Japanese logo designer himself but he admitted his team did copy other work in the past, and the Tokyo Games committee said too many doubts had been raised for it to be used.


When it comes to buying Christmas gifts, most of us have hard-to-buy-for people in their lives: from those who already own everything they could want or need to individuals with a wish list to rival the average annual salary.

But if you’re flummoxed by a loved one’s lust list and money is no problem, there is a solution in the form of British luxury gift website VeryFirstTo.com, which dubs itself “the first website for individuals to learn about, and have, newly launching luxury products and experiences”.

It aims to showcase the most desirable items within the world of technology, fashion, home, leisure, beauty and beyond; as well as the latest must attend venues and events.

One such gift just available on the site which is sure to please the most demanding of recipients is the super premium vodka housed in the Faberge-inspired egg.

If the eye-catching 24-carat gold egg isn’t enough to impress, the vodka itself is filtered twelve times and was once enjoyed by 19th Century St Petersburg aristocracy.

If you’re keen to impress though, you must act fast because only five golden eggs are produced each year.

Other super luxurious items perfect for a show off include the Z.Boat by Zaha Hadid (£300,000; $500,000), the Azature 267 carat black diamond nail polish adored by Kelly Osbourne (£160,000; $240,000) and an Elliot Rhodes Megalodon Shark Tooth Belt Buckle (£1,950; $3,000).

If the Z.Boat takes your fancy, the site will direct you to the seller who will then consider your purchase application, but other gifts such as the vodka egg can be bought instantly from the site.

One Christmas gift which is sure to please the most demanding of recipients is the super premium vodka housed in a Faberge-inspired gold egg

One Christmas gift which is sure to please the most demanding of recipients is the super premium vodka housed in a Faberge-inspired gold egg

And if you have qualms that the gifts may not be up to standard then you can rest easy knowing that they have been hand selected by a panel of arbiters of taste and style also known as “Connoisseurs”.

The panel includes It girl Bip Ling, fashion designer Giles Deacon, Joan Burstein CBE and Co-founder of Browns and Luke Johnson, Chairman of Royal Society of Arts and Gails.

But it all comes at a price with VIP membership to the site setting you back £50 ($75) before you have even contemplated shelling out a few thousand pounds on gifts.

Your membership grants access to exclusive products, bespoke items and special pre-opening events.

“Having found it impossible to establish what products and experiences brands were about to launch and what exciting new brands were soon be born, I thought it about time there was a site that identified such launches and enabled people to be amongst the very first to have them” said founder Marcel Knobil.

Top 5 most expensive products on VeryFirstTo.com

1. The Z.Boat by Zaha Hadid (£300,000; $500,000)
2. Imperial Collection Super Premium Vodka in Faberge-inspired egg (£4,500; $6,900)
3. Azature 267 carat black diamond nail polish (£160,000; $240,000)
4. Elliot Rhodes Megalodon Shark Tooth Belt Buckle (£1,950; $3,000)
5. Chloe/ Paraty military shoulder bag (£1,305; $2,000)