The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) has announced the completion of all new permanent venues for this year’s events, as organisers continue to deal with the challenges presented by the Coronavirus.
Tokyo 2020 today (Friday) said construction of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre was completed on schedule at the end of February. Constructed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Aquatics Centre (pictured in December) is scheduled to be inaugurated on March 22.
A total of 43 venues – eight new permanent venues, 25 existing facilities and 10 temporary venues – will be used at the Tokyo 2020 Games. With the completion of all new permanent venues, Tokyo 2020 said the overall preparation of all venues is progressing on schedule.
TMG is bearing responsibility for seven of the eight new permanent venues, with the exception of the National Stadium, which officially opened in December and is being handled by Japan Sports Council. Musashino Forest Sport Plaza was the first of the eight to be completed in March 2017, with Ariake Arena the most recent to open its doors last month.
In recent weeks, Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been forced to address increasing speculation over how the spread of Coronavirus will affect this year’s Olympics.
Tokyo 2020 president, Yoshiro Mori, today said the arrival ceremony in Japan for the Olympic torch will be downsized, while hinting that additional changes could be made for the Games itself.
Mori said 140 children will not travel to Greece to give the torch a send off on March 19, a day before it is due to arrive in Japan. Earlier this week, Japan confirmed Coronavirus infections had risen to above 1,000, most of them from a quarantined cruise liner in Yokohama. To date, 12 people have died from the virus in the country.
Mori today said the changes forced by the spreading virus “make me feel even more strongly about not losing the fight.” He added, according to the Associated Press news agency: “Of course we are worried. But the government is doing its utmost to battle the situation, and scientists are fighting against the challenges. I believe in the power of human beings and the efforts from around the world. But that doesn’t mean will just wait and hope.”
Referring to the potential for further changes, Mori said: “The Tokyo Olympics should be held even if parts of it have to be modified. But it does not mean we will scale it down.”
Speaking at the conclusion of the IOC’s Executive Board meeting on Wednesday, IOC president Thomas Bach maintained that “neither the word cancellation nor the word postponement was even mentioned” at this week’s gathering.
Bach said the IOC is working closely with the joint task force it had already created with related bodies including the World Health Organization and Tokyo 2020 in an effort to assess the impact of the virus.
Bach reiterated the IOC’s “full commitment” to the Games, adding the organisation is “not participating in any kind of speculation”.