The Tokyo Aquatics Centre was inaugurated on Saturday (24 October) with a ceremony showcasing sport and inviting residents of the neighbourhood to discover this new facility.
The Tokyo Aquatics Centre will see stellar performances from Olympic and Paralympic athletes during the Games. It will host Olympic swimming, diving, artistic swimming, and Paralympic swimming competitions.
The swimming competition will kick off the Olympic Games in the first week, while artistic swimming’s duets and teams will vie for medals during the second week. The diving competition will spread across the fortnight. At the Paralympic Games, swimming spreads across 10 days with medal events taking place every single day.
The Tokyo Aquatics Centre includes a 10-lane main pool, a sub pool and a diving pool and will have a seating capacity of 15,000 at Games-time. It will become the cornerstone of Japanese swimming after Tokyo 2020.
It will also function as a swimming facility where everyone, from children to seniors, can engage in sports and improve their health and wellbeing. With the Tokyo 2020 Games postponed to July 2021, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) has decided to open the facility for private use as well as to sports federations for competition and practice use from 25 October 2020: a glimpse of the Games’ rich legacy even before they take place.
However, the venue itself could steal the show with its impressive architecture and innovative engineering. The construction started with the roof, which was built on the floor; this unconventional method shortened the construction period of the whole venue since it saves labour of elevating both workers and equipment.
Once completed, the 7,000-tonne and 10-metre-thick roof was then hoisted to 37 metres in three steps and supported by four core pillars. In its final position, it provided safety and improved work efficiency of the construction workers, who work under the roof.
The Tokyo Aquatics Centre was constructed by the TMG and was completed in February 2020. All eight Tokyo 2020 new permanent venues were completed on schedule.
The layout of the venue is based on the Tokyo 2020 Accessibility Guidelines, with the facility designed to be accessible to all, including the elderly, people with impairments, parents with young children and those with guide dogs.
It has universally designed toilets and wheelchair-accessible seats in areas designed with enough height difference between the rows of seating to ensure that those in wheelchairs can see clearly, even if spectators in front of them stand up. The venue also has solar panels; and ground heat exchanger systems which will be used for heating the pools’ water, significantly reducing the facility’s carbon footprint.
The inauguration was attended by Yuriko Koike - Tokyo Governor, and Seiko Hashimoto - Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. It featured demonstrations of Olympic swimming, diving, artistic swimming, and Paralympic swimming - with Japanese Para swimmer Manami Urata.
Following the displays, local residents were invited to tour the venue freely and start familiarising themselves with their new facility.