Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic Venues Nearing Completion

Tokyo 2020 Sports Society Technology

Construction of Olympic and Paralympic venues is moving at a brisk pace. Members of the media recently toured five venues, including the new Olympic Stadium.

Construction Work at New Olympic Stadium Chugs Along

Construction of the new Olympic Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is 90% complete. Not only are the stands nearly finished, but work on the athletic field is underway.

Construction of the athletics track is slated to begin in mid-July and is scheduled to be finished by the end of November. An opening event for the stadium is planned for December 21.

Construction on the Olympic Stadium is nearing completion.
Construction on the Olympic Stadium is nearing completion.

On July 3, the press were allowed a peek inside the stadium for the first time in a year. The media also toured the Tokyo Aquatics Center, the Ariake Arena, the Ariake Gymnastics Center, and the Olympic Village.

Architect Takeda Manabu says the new facilities utilize the latest technology and are designed with the comfort of spectators and competitors in mind.

Architect Takeda Manabu.
Architect Takeda Manabu.

Keeping Cool

The Olympic Stadium will host athletics, soccer, and the opening and closing ceremonies. The venue is due to be completed in November.

The Olympic Stadium was 90% complete as of July 2019.
The Olympic Stadium was 90% complete as of July 2019.

The stadium sports five colors of seats that represent natural elements like grass and soil. So far, 45,000 of a total of 60,000 seats are installed.

The five seat colors.
The five seat colors.

The stadium is also fitted with 185 fans that will keep the stands ventilated.

Fans create breeze.
Fans create breeze.

When the stadium was last opened to the media, the roof was still dotted with construction cranes. One year on, the roof is complete and sports a few interesting features.

Construction at the Olympic Stadium in July 2018.
Construction at the Olympic Stadium in July 2018.

According to Takeda, fans will draw in air from outside through a network of ducts positioned between seating levels, creating air flow and keeping spectators and athletes cool.

The stadium in July 2019.
The stadium in July 2019.

The combination of ducts and fans has been designed to ventilate the stands without creating a strong breeze that may interfere with sports competitions. While the athletics track at the National Stadium that formerly occupied the site was susceptible to the effects of wind due to the venue not having a roof, the new stadium’s canopy will reduce the effects headwinds and tailwinds have on athletes.

A series of fans and ducts draw air into the stadium, ventilating the venue.
A series of fans and ducts draw air into the stadium, ventilating the venue.

Tokyo Aquatics Center: Roof Lift Saves Money

The features of the Olympic venues in the bayfront area are also cutting edge.

The Tokyo Aquatics Center, where swimming and diving events will take place, is topped by a striking roof.

The Tokyo Aquatics Center.
The Tokyo Aquatics Center.

When the press was last allowed into the construction site in May 2018, the roof of the center was lying on the ground. Now, with the project 75% complete, the 7,000-metric-ton structure is in place atop the facility.

Takeda explains that the construction process involved lifting the roof into position using cranes, adding that it was a far more cost-effective option as it did not require setting up scaffolding used in conventional construction methods.

The roof of the Tokyo Aquatics Center was constructed at ground level (left) and then lifted into place.
The roof of the Tokyo Aquatics Center was constructed at ground level (left) and then lifted into place.

This approach reduced construction costs by ¥10 billion, lowering the project’s estimated price tag from ¥68.3 billion to just ¥56.7 billion. Seating 15,000 people, the Aquatics Center will be completed in February 2020.

Ariake Arena: Concave Roof a Concession to Local Residents

Ariake, also located in the bay area, is home to the Ariake Arena, the venue for volleyball and wheelchair basketball. The arena sports a distinctive concave roof.

Ariake Arena.
Ariake Arena.

The building is surrounded by residential tower blocks. While a conventional, convex roof would reflect sunlight onto the surrounding buildings, the arena’s concave roof directs the sun’s rays inward, reducing the impact on the local community. The shape also reduces the overall area inside the arena, cutting air-conditioning and lighting costs.

The Arena is already 83% complete and construction has now shifted to the interior. The facility seats over 15,000 and is scheduled to be completed in December.

A typical roof (above) would reflect light into nearby buildings, but the concave roof diverts the sun’s rays.
A typical roof (above) would reflect light into nearby buildings, but the concave roof diverts the sun’s rays.

Ariake Gymnastics Center and Olympic Village

Across the road from the Ariake Arena is the Ariake Gymnastics Center. The venue seats 12,000 people and has a wooden roof made from Japanese timber. As with the aquatics center, cranes lifted the roof into place.

The Ariake Gymnastics Center.
The Ariake Gymnastics Center.

Work on the Olympic Village is also progressing at a brisk pace. After the games the site will be developed as a residential and shopping area. Local residents are hopeful that the development project will breathe life into the neighborhood and attract businesses.

The Olympic Village will be turned into apartments and commercial facilities after the games.
The Olympic Village will be turned into apartments and commercial facilities after the games.

(Originally published in Japanese on FNN’s Mezamashi TV on June 4, 2019. Translated and edited by Nippon.com.)

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