Construction on track as two-year mark approaches for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

Just 105 weeks away from the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the newly constructed venues are about 20~40 percent completed and just about on schedule, Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials insisted on Tuesday during a media tour for the venues in the Tokyo Bay Area.

The included venues were the Canoe Slalom Course, Sea Forest Waterway, Ariake Arena, Olympic Aquatics Centre, all in Koto Ward, and the Olympic Village in Chuo Ward. All those venues as well as the Seaside Park Hockey Stadium (Ota Ward), Dream Island Archery Field (Koto Ward), Ariake Tennis Park (Koto Ward) and Musashino Forest Sport Plaza (Chofu City) are newly constructed or renewed for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Musashino Forest Sport Plaza is the only completed venue and has already hosted several sports events.

Newly open to the media was the Olympic Village, which will have 21 flat-type buildings and provide 18,000 beds for the Olympics and 8,000 for the Paralympics.

“Along with the 21 buildings for accommodation, we’ll have the Main Dining where the athletes have meals and Village Plaza, a shopping center, in the area,” said Yukihiro Nakata, a PR person for the Olympic Village.

“The process is 40 percent completed. The accommodation towers will be completed by December 2019 and temporary facilities are set by the spring of 2020.”

After the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, two new 50-floor buildings will be developed and sold to the public.

The construction of the Olympics Aquatics Centre, which will be used for swimming events, features a unique method called lift-up. The 6,000-ton (5,443-metric ton) roof is under construction a few meters above the ground, and will be raised to 37 meters in three steps.

Two steps have been done and the final one, scheduled for later this month, will move the roof up 15 meters to complete the process.

“By using this method, the construction term can be shortened because we can develop the building and the roof at the same time,”said Taishu Tone, a PR person for the Olympic Aquatics Centre. “By making the roof near the ground, we can cut the cost to move up the materials. After the roof is lifted up midway, we can work under the roof when it rains.”

The schedule was delayed for two months because contaminated soil was found five to 10 meters underground last year. The goal was pushed back to February 2020, but will be ready for the rehearsal events before the 2020 Games.

A water gate and pumping facility will be set up at both ends of Sea Forest Waterway, a 200 x 2,000-meter rectangle field. Because the ends are connected to Tokyo Bay, the water gates and pumping systems are necessary to prevent the waves and tide level from affecting canoe sprint and rowing, which will be held at the venue.

According to the construction schedule, all the competition venues should be completed before or during 2019 and ready for test events.