Athletics track ‘to remain’ at Tokyo’s National Stadium

The Japanese Government has decided to backtrack on a decision to remove the athletics track from Tokyo’s National Stadium as the capital seeks to land the 2025 World Athletics Championships following on from the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Japanese news agency Kyodo, citing a source with knowledge of the matter, said the reversal has been decided upon due to concerns over further redevelopment costs for the venue, plus worries over its future viability as an events host without an athletics track in place.

Tokyo’s new National Stadium officially opened on December 15, 2019 following a near three-year construction project, as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a completion ceremony for the venue that served as the centrepiece for this year’s postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In 2017, the Government decided to turn the National Stadium into a dedicated football and rugby union venue after Tokyo 2020, but this is now no longer set to happen. The National Stadium is currently operated by Japan Sport Council, but its management and operations are due to be transferred to the private sector.

Earlier this month, Kyodo reported that the Japan Association of Athletics Federations had lodged a bid to host the 2025 World Athletics Championships by the October 1 deadline set by World Athletics.

The sport’s world governing body is due to decide on the host of the 2025 Championships in March with Japan having previously staged the event in Tokyo in 1991 and Osaka in 2007.

In other news, the Government yesterday (Thursday) said an attendance limit of 10,000 at major events such as sports games and concerts will be lifted on November 1 as new COVID-19 infections continue to decline across the country.

The decision comes after a Government Subcommittee earlier approved the lifting of the 10,000 cap imposed in 27 prefectures, including Tokyo, although adding a nationwide attendance limit of 50% of venue capacity would remain in place for the time being.

Kyodo said the Government is considering a further easing of restrictions, such as allowing full capacity venues under certain conditions, and will present them next month when it submits its latest COVID-19 response.

Image: Tokyo 2020