Let the Games Begin

Construction of 2020 Olympic venues complete as cancellation fears loom

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics say they are working closely with health authorities regarding the threat of the coronavirus, but the games are still on. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Construction of all the final permanent venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics is now complete, according to Japan Today. Completion of the Tokyo Aquatics Center at the end of February marked the official end of construction of major venues in preparation for the games in July. The Aquatics Center spans four stories and seats up to 15,000 fans, with a movable wall that can split the facility into two separate 82-foot pools.

The Aquatics Center rounds out a number of other significant venues throughout Tokyo, including the Kengo Kuma-designed National Stadium. Built exclusively from wood and steel, the stadium holds 68,000 people and draws inspiration from traditional Japanese architectural techniques and was completed last November. It is specially designed to provide a buffer from Tokyo’s notoriously hot summers thanks to a smartly designed passive cooling system.

Kuma’s design came before anyone knew just how stressful the period leading up to the games would become—in recent months, the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Japan and beyond have caused a global health crisis, causing speculation that Tokyo 2020 might face a forced cancellation. In a press statement last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board announced its intention to continue planning for the games while monitoring the situation and heeding the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO):

The IOC will continue to follow the advice of WHO, as the leading United Nations agency on this topic. The IOC EB expressed its thanks to WHO for its continued valuable advice and cooperation.

It also praised the great unity and solidarity of the athletes, National Olympic Committees, International Federations and governments. It welcomed their close collaboration and flexibility with regard to the preparations for the Games, and particularly the qualification events. All stakeholders continue to work closely together to address the challenges of the coronavirus.

A joint task force involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the City of Tokyo, the Japanese government, and the WHO was formed in mid-February and will continue to evaluate the risks posed by coronavirus as the Olympics and Paralympics approach. The games are currently still scheduled to take place from July 24 through August 9, 2020. However, as the situation continues to develop, it appears even the games’ organizing committee is scrambling to get on the same page.

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