Olympics

National Stadium ready for Olympics

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The newly built National Stadium, which will serve as the main venue for next summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, was unveiled on Sunday.

Hundreds of media members, from both domestic and international outlets, toured the inside and outside of the venue, which was completed Nov. 30.

The stadium will be used for athletics and soccer during the Tokyo Games as well as opening and closing ceremonies.

Ahead of the tour, officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike held a ceremony commemorating the stadium’s completion.

The stadium’s original design was conceived by architect Zaha Hadid, but the government scrapped those plans due to budget constraints.

Hadid passed away on March 31, 2016.

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma took over the project in 2015.

“We revised the project, and today, we have arrived at this moment to announce the completion of the National Stadium, which has the world’s utmost universal design and is in harmony with the surrounding environment,” Abe said at the ceremony.

“I believe that there have been difficult times leading up to the completion of the National Stadium, which will serve as the symbol for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. There was the alteration (of the design), but it was successfully completed with an ‘All-Japan’ effort. I would like to express my admiration to those who have been part of this project.”

The general public will get its first chance to experience the venue during an opening event on Saturday that will feature Japanese cultural displays and appearances from athletes such as former Olympic great Usain Bolt, the current 100- and 200-meter dash world record-holder.

Cedar wood gathered from all of Japan’s 47 prefectures were used for the eaves that cover the three-tier stands as well as the pent roofs that surround the stadium.

The venue in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward also has a pair of 9-by-32-meter video displays.

Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian who competed in cycling at the Summer Games and speedskating at the Winter Olympics, has also served as leader of Japan’s Olympic delegation.

She said the stadium is a venue the country can be proud of from both “the athletes’ standpoint and spectators’ point of view.”

Standing inside the brand-new site, Koike said she could already “envision the athletes competing and fans cheering.”

The National Stadium’s sporting debut will be the Jan. 1 final of the Emperor’s Cup, the annual soccer tournament held by the Japan Football Association.

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