Six months until Tokyo 2020: How are the Olympic venues shaping up?


The Greatest Show on Earth is just six months away and Tokyo is gearing up to host the 32nd Summer Olympic Games.

Anticipation for the showpiece that is Tokyo 2020 has been rife ever since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dressed up as that famous Italian plumber Mario in the handover segment of the Closing Ceremony in Rio four years ago.

While previous Games have been beset by delays and infrastructural nightmares, most notably Athens in 2004, progress has been, comparatively, smooth sailing. Here Sportsmail take a look at venues that will become very familiar to us all when the Olympic cauldron is lit on July 24.

Aerial shot of the new National Stadium and the Olympic Park, with the unmistakable sight of Mount Fuiji in the background

Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympic Games back in 1964

Tokyo 2020 will be the second time Japan's capital has played host city

The National Stadium was the centrepiece of the previous Games in Tokyo in 1964 and will be once more in 2020 

Visitors pose for pictures in front of the iconic Olympic rings in front of the Olympic Museum near the National Stadium

Visitors pose for pictures in front of the iconic Olympic rings in front of the Olympic Museum near the National Stadium

Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone

Aerial shot of construction site from April 2017 (top) to the day completion was announced in November 2019 (bottom)

Aerial shot of construction site from April 2017 (top) to the day completion was announced in November 2019 (bottom)

The venue plan for this summer’s Games consists predominantly of two thematic zones.

The Heritage Zone houses several iconic venues that were used at the Tokyo Games in 1964 to further sustain the legacy of that year’s Olympics. 

The Tokyo Bay Zone serves as a model for the innovative urban development that is meant to symbolise the exciting future of Japan’s capital city.

The zones extend across the city to form an infinity symbol, with the Athletes’ Village located at the point where the two zones intersect.

The infinity zone has been used to embody ‘the boundless passion, commitment and inspiration of the world’s elite athletes, the limitless potential of future generations, and the lasting legacy that will be passed on to the people of Tokyo, Japan and the world’, according to the Tokyo Organising Committee.

New National Stadium

The biggest headache for organisers came in the shape of, or perhaps more accurately, design of, the centrepiece of the fortnight. 

The intention from an early stage was to remodel the National Stadium in Tokyo, which had been the site of the 1964 Olympics, the last time the city had hosted the Games.

In February 2012 a £700million renovation was announced, with the design up for bidding. 

TOKYO 2020 – KEY DATES

July 24: Opening Ceremony

July 25 – August 6: Swimming

July 25 – August 2: Tennis 

July 31 – August 9: Athletics 

August 3-9: Track Cycling 

August 8: Football final

August 9: Closing Ceremony

The winning proposal faced enormous criticism over its design, compared rather unfavourably to a bicycle helmet. 

As costs spiralled to nearly £1.8billion the Zaha Hadid design was scrapped entirely. 

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has been inspired by traditional temples and has a much more conventional look. 

They had wanted the stadium to be ready in time for last year’s Rugby World Cup, but that proved impossible due to the change in plans. 

The cost, though, has still been projected at a staggering £1b, with the capacity at 68,000, which can increase to 80,000 for football matches.

Both the opening and closing ceremonies will be held here, along with athletics events and football matches. After the Games it will continue to be used for sporting and cultural events.

OLYMPIC VENUES: HERITAGE ZONE AND TOKYO BAY ZONE

1. Olympic Stadium – Opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, football

2. Tokoyo Metropolitan Gymnasium – Table tennis

3. Yoyogi National Stadium – Handball

4. Nippon Budokan – Judo, Karate

5. Tokyo International Forum – Weightlifting

6. Kokugikan Arena – Boxing

7. Equestrian Park – Dressage, Eventing, Jumping

8. Musashino Forest Sport Plaza – Badminton, Modern Pentathlon (Fencing)

9. Tokyo Stadium – Football, Rugby, Modern Pentathlon (Swimming, Fencing, Riding, Laser-Run)

10. Musashinonomori Park – Cycling (Road Race)

11. Ariake Arena – Volleyball

12. Ariake Gymnastics Centre – Gymnastics

13. Ariake Urban Sports Park – Cycling (BMX Freestyle, BMX racing), Skateboarding

14. Ariake Tennis Park – Tennis

15. Odaiba Marine Park – Aquatics (Marathon Swiming), Triathlon

16. Shiokaze Park – Beach Volleyball

17. Aomi Urban Sports Park – Basketball, Sport Climbing

18. Oi Hockey Stadium – Hockey

19. Sea Forest Cross-Country Course – Equestrian (Eventing)

20. Sea Forest Waterway – Canoe (Sprint), Rowing 

21. Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre – Caneo (Slalom) 

22. Yumenoshima Park Archery Field – Archery

23. Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming

24. Tatsumi Water Polo Centre – Water Polo

25. Sapporo Odori Park – Athletics (Marathon/ Race Walk)

26. Makuhari Messe Hall A – Taekwondo, Wrestling

27. Makuhari Messe Hall B – Fencing

28. Tsurigaski Surfing Beach – Surfing

29. Saitama Super Arena – Basketball

30. Asaka Shooting Range – Shooting

31. Kasumigaseki Country Club – Golf

32. Enoshima Yacht Harbour – Sailing

33. Izu Velodrome – Track Cycling

34. Izu MTB Course – Mountain Biking

35. Fuji International Speedway – Cycling (Road Race)

36. Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium – Baseball

37. Yokohama Baseball Stadium – Baseball 

38. Sapporo Dome – Football

39. Miyagi Stadium – Football

40. Ibaraki Kashima Stadium – Football

41. Saitama Stadium – Football

42. International Stadium Yokohama – Football

After going through various proposals for the design of the New National Stadium, £1billion was spent on this construction

After going through various proposals for the design of the New National Stadium, £1billion was spent on this construction

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has been inspired by traditional temples and has a conventional look

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has been inspired by traditional temples and has a conventional look

The New National Stadium will host opening and closing ceremonies, football and track and field events in the athletics

The New National Stadium will host opening and closing ceremonies, football and track and field events in the athletics

Yoyogi National Stadium

Another survivor from the 1964 Games, this venue was originally constructed to stage aquatics and basketball. This year it will be the stage for handball, while in the Paralympics it will be home to both badminton and wheelchair rugby.

The arena is famous for its suspension roof design and will surely become a regular sight during coverage this summer.

It holds 13,291 people inside. 

Yoyogi National Stadium was used in the 1964 Games and will stage handball at this year's Olympics in Tokyo

Yoyogi National Stadium was used in the 1964 Games and will stage handball at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo

The arena is famous for its suspension roof design and was originally constructed to stage aquatics and basketball

The arena is famous for its suspension roof design and was originally constructed to stage aquatics and basketball

Musashino Forest Sport Plaza

A brand new build for the 2020 Games, intended to host badminton and fencing over the fortnight.

It was the first new venue completed for the Olympics and opened in November 2017. Construction took three and a half years and cost over £230million.

It is located just a stone’s throw from Tokyo Stadium in the Heritage Zone. 

Musashino Forest Sport Plaza is new build for the 2020 Games, intended to host badminton and fencing over the fortnight

Musashino Forest Sport Plaza is new build for the 2020 Games, intended to host badminton and fencing over the fortnight

Tokyo Stadium 

A multi-purpose 50,000-seater stadium that opened in 2001 and hosted eight games during last year’s Rugby World Cup, including the opening match between Japan and Russia and the bronze final between New Zealand and Wales.

It is the home of J-League club FC Tokyo and J2’s Tokyo Verdy.

It will host both rugby sevens and football at the Games. 

Tokyo Stadium will stage both rugby sevens and football at the Olympics having hosted eight games at the Rugby World Cup

Tokyo Stadium will stage both rugby sevens and football at the Olympics having hosted eight games at the Rugby World Cup

Tokyo Aquatics Centre

Construction on the home of swimming at the 2020 Games is expected to conclude at the end of February with a grand opening set for March 22. It’s located in the Tatsumi-no-Mori Seaside Park.

It will be the final permanent venue to be completed for the summer, at an expected cost of £403m. It features a 15,000 capacity with a 50m pool and a moveable wall that ensures it can be converted into two 25m pools.

Artistic swimming and diving will also take place at the venue, which is due to host a test event in the middle of April. After the Games it will continue to function as a site for international and national swimming events.  

Construction on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the home of swimming this summer, is expected to conclude at end of February

Construction on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the home of swimming this summer, is expected to conclude at end of February

It will be the final permanent venue to be completed ahead of the summer, at an expected cost of £403million

It will be the final permanent venue to be completed ahead of the summer, at an expected cost of £403million

Ariake Gymnastics Centre 

Built on an area previously used primarily for timber storage, the Ariake Gymnastics Centre will hold 12,000 people. It was originally planned to be just a temporary structure, but they aim to keep it in place for 10 years to improve the Games’ legacy.

It’s located in the northern part of Tokyo’s Ariake district and will, unsurprisingly, host all gymnastics events.

The design of the building is aimed at showcasing traditional Japanese craftsmanship, with timber used for the roof frames, the main auditorium and the building’s exterior. 

Built on an area previously used primarily for timber storage, the Ariake Gymnastics Centre will hold 12,000 people

Built on an area previously used primarily for timber storage, the Ariake Gymnastics Centre will hold 12,000 people

Ariake Arena

Officially completed last month, the Ariake Arena will host volleyball and then wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games. It is one of a number of projects constructed in Koto, the Tokyo Bay Area of the city.

It is a sleek, modern, state of the art building holding up to 12,000 spectators.

Ariake Arena cost roughly £245m and is one of its permanent venues that following the Games is intended to become a new sporting and cultural centre. There are plans to hold a test event between April 21 and 26. 

Officially completed last month, the Ariake Arena will host volleyball and then wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games

Officially completed last month, the Ariake Arena will host volleyball and then wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games

Ariake Tennis Park

Andy Murray will be attempting to make history with a third successive Olympic gold medal this year – injury permitting of course – and  the rich Ariake Tennis Park is where he will be based.

The park is widely known as the home of tennis in Japan, surrounded by verdant greenery and housing 48 outdoor tennis courts, including its centrepiece – the Ariake Coliseum.

It has a capacity of 10,000 and is one of the few professional tennis venues to benefit from a retractable roof – like Wimbledon’s Centre Court.  

The Ariake Coliseum is the centrepiece of the Ariake Tennis Park where Andy Murray could attempt to win a third gold medal

The Ariake Coliseum is the centrepiece of the Ariake Tennis Park where Andy Murray could attempt to win a third gold medal

Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre 

The first manmade course in Japan has been newly constructed for the Games and plays host to the slalom canoe. The course is 200 metres in length and holds temporary seating for up to 7,500 fans.

The venue is already up and running having hosted the NHK Cup Canoe Slalom and a test event in successive October weekends.

The £50.3m centre will remain in use after the Games for watersports and rafting for the general public. It is situated close to the Kasai Rinkai Park, an amusement park which brings in three million annually, which can only boost the centre’s profile for future years. 

Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre is the first manmade course in Japan and has been newly constructed for the Games

Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre is the first manmade course in Japan and has been newly constructed for the Games

Tatsumi Water Polo Centre

Water polo gets its own venue for the 2020 Games at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center. The venue has hosted several Japanese swimming competitions since it opened in August 1993.

The building is one of the more original designs you will find this summer, with it’s half arching, half dome ceilings and large glass windows. It is built largely of steel-reinforced concrete, except for the roof which is a pipe space-truss structure.

It will hold 4,700 people during the fortnight, but its future beyond is unclear. Reports surfaced last year that it could be turned into an ice rink, due to the building of the new Olympic Aquatics Centre. 

Water polo gets its own venue for the 2020 Games at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, opened in 1993

Water polo gets its own venue for the 2020 Games at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, opened in 1993

It will hold 4,700 people during the fortnight, but its future beyond is unclear with reports it will be turned into an ice rink

It will hold 4,700 people during the fortnight, but its future beyond is unclear with reports it will be turned into an ice rink

Saitama Super Arena

Basketball is one of the most popular sports at the Olympics, and the 36,500-seater capacity Saitama Super Arena will play host this summer. The facility is one of Japan’s largest multipurpose venues since opening back in September 2000.

It possesses a movable section of seating which will reduce capacity to 21,000 at the Games, but at its maximum it is the fourth largest indoor arena in the world.

The venue is most famous for hosting Japanese professional wrestling and MMA. It even once housed the John Lennon Museum, which displayed memorabilia relating to the former Beatle, before closing in 2010. 

Basketball is one of the most popular sports at the Olympics, and the 36,500-seater Saitama Super Arena will play host

Basketball is one of the most popular sports at the Olympics, and the 36,500-seater Saitama Super Arena will play host

Izu Velodrome 

Team GB has enjoyed unparalleled success in track cycling over the last 12 years, so expect to see the Union Jack raised aloft countless times here. This indoor venue located in Izu City houses a 250m wooden cycling track – the first to be built in Japan.

Established in 2011 it has hosted a number of major domestic cycling competitions and has served as a national training centre.

The dome-shaped building could become one of the iconic sights of the Games, with the unmistakable snow-capped Mount Fuji sat on the horizon. 

The Izu Velodrome was established in 2011 and houses a 250m wooden cycling track - the first to be built in Japan

The Izu Velodrome was established in 2011 and houses a 250m wooden cycling track – the first to be built in Japan

The dome-shaped building could become one of the iconic sights of Tokyo 2020, with Mount Fuji sat on the horizon

The dome-shaped building could become one of the iconic sights of Tokyo 2020, with Mount Fuji sat on the horizon



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