Tokyo's New National Stadium - By Elizabeth Jeneault - J-Pop Exchange Information & Views
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Tokyo's New National Stadium

By Elizabeth Jeneault for The J-Pop Exchange

Tokyo’s new Olympic Stadium recently opened to the public and eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt was there to celebrate! The world renowned athlete took part in a sold-out exhibition event at the stadium, while tens of thousands watched on.

The new Japan National Stadium will serve as the main stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies of the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the venue for track and field events. It’s located on the same grounds as the old National Stadium, which played host to the Olympic Games of 1964.

Bolt praised the condition of the new stadium after taking part in an exhibition relay to help celebrate its opening. Although he will not be competing at the upcoming Summer Olympics, he said he knows the 2020 Games will be special.

“I know Tokyo is going to be extremely exciting because you can see the amount of people that was in the stadium,” said Bolt.

Continue reading below for more on the new stadium, and how it was recently celebrated!

Designed with environmental awareness

Renowned architect Kengo Kuma designed the new stadium, which was completed at a cost of more than $1.25 billion.

Kuma’s design was inspired by a large green space nearby, known as the Outer Garden of Meiji Jingu Shrine. The architect wanted the stadium to fit perfectly with the surrounding nature, and so he envisioned it being built of wood and greenery. To help bring that vision to life, wood was gathered from Japan’s 47 prefectures.

The wood that was collected has been used in various aspects of the stadium’s design, including within the beautiful facade. There’s lots of greenery surrounding the stadium, too. More than 47,000 medium and small-sized trees were planted within the stadium’s precinct!

Original plan for stadium rebuild was scrapped

Japan is proud of its new stadium, but especially after having scrapped its initial plan to rebuild it years ago. Officials had to ditch their original plan for the rebuild after much public outcry over increased building costs.

After Kuma’s design was finally approved, construction began in December of 2016 and wrapped up this past November.

The new stadium has a capacity of around 68,000 and it features three tiers of seats. There are large roof eaves that encourage air to circulate, allowing breeze to enter the stadium during hot weather.

While the new stadium will serve as the centerpiece of Tokyo 2020, it will also be a place where people will gather long after the summer sporting events are over.

“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 fifty years or even longer,” said Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto.

Nearly 60,000 celebrate new stadium

Nearly 60,000 people had the chance to check out the new facility at a recent three-hour long stadium celebration. They watched Usain Bolt, the reigning 100m and 200m world record holder, compete in an exhibition relay event. Bolt’s team came in third, but fans were still excited about his performance! Plus, Bolt connected with locals later on by having them join him in a group “Lighting Bolt” pose (which is how he celebrates a victory).

The first official sporting competition at the stadium will take place on New Year’s Day. The Emperor’s Cup football final will be held there. And after the stadium is used for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, Japan’s soccer and rugby teams will call the facility home.

The National Stadium is one of eight new permanent venues for the Tokyo 2020 Games and is among 43 total venues being used.

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