Grand opening of Tokyo Aquatics Centre gives boost to athletes 

INUI Yukiko and YOSHIDA Megumu performed artistic swimming duet at Tokyo Aquatics Centre
INUI Yukiko and YOSHIDA Megumu performed artistic swimming duet at Tokyo Aquatics Centre

The inauguration of the venue highlights Tokyo’s continued readiness to host the Games 

The grand opening ceremony of Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Saturday (24 October) unveiled the cutting-edge aquatic facility, which will encourage athletes to continue with their preparations and give their best performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.

The ceremony included a dynamic demonstration where athletes showcased their disciplines, including swimming, diving and artistic swimming. Many of the athletes who took part in the inauguration have already qualified for the Games next year.

The Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games swimming venue is unveiled after seven-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games swimming venue is unveiled after seven-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tokyo 2020 / Uta MUKUO

Next year, the venue will host Olympic swimming, diving, and artistic swimming, along with Paralympic swimming competitions. It includes a 10-lane main pool, a sub pool and a diving pool with the venue holding up to 15,000 fans for Games-time.

Both the main pool and the sub pool also feature movable floors and walls.

Swimmer IKEE Rikako joined three other athletes, including two Para swimmers, in showcasing a mixed 200m medley relay. Ikee, who is the national records holder of both the 100m and 200m freestyle along with the 50m and 100m butterfly, applauded the state-of-the-art facility.

"It was comfortable to swim in because it’s three meters deep and I think it’s a great arena," she said in a statement.

The 20-year-old said that she was excited thinking about the top athletes from Japan and the rest of the world who will perform there.

IKEE Rikako swam the anchor leg of the mixed 200-meter relay demonstration.
IKEE Rikako swam the anchor leg of the mixed 200-meter relay demonstration.

TERAUCHI Ken, a veteran diver who will compete in his sixth Olympic Games in front of a home crowd, performed on the synchronised 3m springboard with his partner SAKAI Sho at the ceremony.

“I think it’s a huge and refreshing venue. I’m also happy that I could make a fresh start towards next year,” said Terauchi in a statement following the event, “I will continue polishing my skills and do my best to give the finest performance at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.”

Meanwhile, Sakai said the springboard felt good to step on and above all, he was impressed by the number of seats in the venue.

“It felt so good just thinking of the real Games-time and imagining myself standing on the podium in this venue,” he said.

TERAUCHI Ken and SAKAI Sho demonstrated synchronised 3m springboard at the grand opening ceremony
TERAUCHI Ken and SAKAI Sho demonstrated synchronised 3m springboard at the grand opening ceremony

Constructed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the venue was completed in February 2020. Built with consideration for the environment and the accessibility for all, the venue’s design also incorporates Japanese features such as a ceiling inspired by origami, the Japanese papercraft.

While the inauguration ceremony was originally scheduled in March, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her speech at the event, Tokyo Governor KOIKE Yuriko expressed her confidence that sports organisations and residents in Tokyo would be satisfied with the venue. She also reiterated the government’s determination to deliver a safe Games.

“To overcome COVID-19 and to have a safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games, we will work together with the national government and Tokyo 2020 to make the thorough preparation," she added.

Tokyo 2020 mascots Miraitowa and Someity presented at the grand opening ceremony.
Tokyo 2020 mascots Miraitowa and Someity presented at the grand opening ceremony.

The venue is expected to be 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 has decided to open the facility for private use as well as to sports federations for competition and practice use from 25 October: a glimpse of the Games’ rich legacy even before they take place.

Several public tours have been scheduled in November for more people to discover the facility. Moreover, in early December the venue will have its first national competition — the 2020 National Swimming Championships.