Today BBC has sent a personal apology to Zaha Hadid following the interview with presenter Sarah Montague yesterday morning. The architect had to cut short the live radio interview over the inadequate questions posed to her. Radio 4’s Today programme has issued a correction saying that the interview had not intended to upset the architect and admitted that the latter section of the interview had been less than ideal.
Hadid was asked about the deaths of 1,200 migrant workers in Al Wakrah stadium, Qatar, for the 2022 Fifa World Cup. This number was based on a report from the International Trade Union Council (ITUC). The report referred to deaths of migrant workers across the entire country since it won the bid to host the football event and not specifically to Hadid’s project. Hadid told Montague there had been no deaths on her project and that she should check her facts ! “I have to put you right. There’s not a single problem in our stadium in Qatar,” said Hadid. “There’s no deaths on our site whatsoever.”
When Ms Montague suggested that the issue was ‘fascinating’, Dame Zaha replied: ‘It’s not fascinating, because it was reported in the Press and they had to withdraw their statement and they had to apologise to me for wrongdoing.’ However, in the apology issued on the BBC website, it said that “The ITUC’s figure of 1,200 construction deaths which was quoted on this programme refers to the whole of Qatar, and not specifically to the main World Cup stadium site… We are sorry we didn’t make this clear in this morning’s interview with Dame Zaha Hadid. We are happy to accept there is no evidence of deaths at the main stadium site.”
Montague went further and asked Hadid about her “battle to win back” the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium project. She asked the architect to explain the issues with the project, which Hadid has described as a “scandal” after her competition-winning design was scrapped by the Japanese prime minster. But Montague interrupted Hadid’s answer, aggravating the situation. “Don’t ask me a question if you can’t let me finish it, then I won’t say anything,” said Hadid.
Zaha was invited to the interview after she was named the recipient of this year’s Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal. However, Hadid had to bring to an unexpected end her appearance on the BBC programme saying: ‘Let’s stop this conversation right now, I don’t want to carry on.’