Tokyo’s new National Stadium officially opened yesterday (Sunday) as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a completion ceremony for the venue that will serve as the centrepiece for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and architect Kengo Kuma were also in attendance during the ceremony, which gave media a first glimpse of the venue.

As well as hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, the National Stadium will stage athletics and football events.

The 68,000-seat stadium has been designed to complement the surrounding nature, including the large green space known as the Outer Garden of Meiji Jingu Shrine. With this in mind, the façade of the stadium consists of overlapping, multi-layered eaves made of wood from Japan’s 47 prefectures.

More than 47,000 trees have also been planted within the stadium’s precinct. Inside the venue, accessible seating will be distributed on all tiers and floors of the stands to ensure visibility and comfort for wheelchair users.

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said: “We are so looking forward to seeing athletes from all over the world marching into the new stadium at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on 24 July 2020 and the Paralympic Games on 25 August 2020, when the eyes of the world will be on this iconic symbol of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

“We believe the stadium will become an irreplaceable legacy – a place that will allow people to spend healthy and fulfilling days enjoying sport for another 50 years or even longer. With this in mind, we will continue our preparations for hosting the best Games ever.”

The stadium had initially been due to host matches at the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan but a late change in the design amid spiralling costs meant that construction did not begin until December 2016.

Abe said: “For this National Stadium, which will be the symbol of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, I assume there must have been many difficulties for the process of its construction.

“The design was changed during the process. It is purely the result of everyone’s ‘All Japan’ contribution and hard work, so that we finally celebrate today.”

The stadium is due to host the Emperor’s Cup football match on January 1. Before that, on December 21, the venue will host a celebratory ‘One Race’ event, which will be attended by Usain Bolt and a number of other athletes.

Images: Tokyo 2020