Tokyo finally opens Aquatics Centre for Olympics

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Saturday inaugurated the Aquatics Centre for next year’s rescheduled Olympics.

Tokyo's Governor Yuriko Koike and other officials and athletes wave during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. - REUTERS

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike finally inaugurated on Saturday the Aquatics Centre for next year’s rescheduled Olympics, seven months after it was supposed to open.

The Aquatics Centre was due to officially open on March 22 but that event was cancelled over coronavirus fears. Two days later the entire Tokyo Games was postponed until 2021.

Organisers hope to welcome the world’s top swimmers and divers to the centre next year, as well as up to 15,000 fans. Organisers have yet to decide, however, whether supporters will be allowed into venues during the Games.

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The opening ceremony, with hundreds of officials in attendance, struck a hopeful tone. Koike was keen to stress that the USD 523 million Aquatics Centre will benefit Tokyo residents as well as Olympic athletes.

The ceremony was followed by diving and swimming exhibitions by Japanese athletes, including Rikako Ikee, whose battle back from leukaemia has been seen as a reflection of the Games own attempt at resurrection.

'Received courage'

“There have been some unexpected things such as the postponement, but we need to hold a successful Games,” Koike said.

The Aquatics Centre will host artistic swimming, diving, and swimming events at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games. - REUTERS

 

“I really hope that the wonderful swimmers can unleash their powers and the world’s top swimmers exhibit great performances at this centre. By seeing Ikee in a healthy condition and her energetic swim (today), I have received courage.”

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All of Tokyo’s Olympic venues were built or renovated on schedule for the Games, ready if they had gone ahead this year. Organisers are now focusing on how to stage the world’s biggest sporting event amid a pandemic next July.