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TOKYO 081


Pacific coast, with organisers eager to promote Japan’s beaches. Rowing and canoeing will take place at Sea Forest Waterway, which has been constructed on the canals that run between the inner and outer central breakwater reclamation areas of the Port of Tokyo. Te Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Rinkai Park is the first man-made course of its kind to be built in Japan. Beach volleyball will be held within sight of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay at Shiokaze Park, next to the Odaiba Marine Park that will be used for the triathlon. Another Olympic first sees climbing as an event. But it comes with a compromise that no one likes: only one climbing medal each for men and women. Tere could have been bouldering (ropeless, acrobatic crawls up short, often overhanging walls), lead climbing (the classic, methodical discipline with its high walls and long ropes) or speed climbing – just get up that sheer wall as fast as possible in a vertical sprint to the top — easy to understand, and good for television. Speed walls have had the same design, the same holds, put in exactly the same places, for more than 20 years. Every wall at every competition is the same. Speed climbing is a strange derivative of the sport’s broader ethos. But when the IOC refused to give climbing more medals, climbing’s federation created a combination event for the Games. Speed, bouldering and lead climbing have all been mashed into one.


In Chiba city, the Makuhari Messe Hall is used for international exhibitions and conferences. Opened in 1989, this striking series of buildings will host wrestling, fencing, taekwondo and various Paralympic sports events – goalball, wheelchair fencing, sitting volleyball and taekwondo. Basketball will be staged at Saitama Super Arena, one of the country’s largest multipurpose venues. It is designed with moveable blocks of seats that can accommodate anywhere from 9,000 to 37,000 spectators, depending on event requirements. Football matches will be played at various locations including the Sapporo Dome, an all-weather facility that features a


remarkable ‘hovering’ football pitch that rolls from outdoors to indoors on 34 wheels at 4m/ min, all 120 × 85m and 8,300t of it. Te road cycling events will start from temporary facilities in the Musashinonomori Park, and finish on the Fuji International Speedway. Indoor track cycling will be held in the Izu Velodrome that was established in 2011, and the off-road mountain bike course is nearby, overlooked by Mount Fuji.


So, from the entirely new Oi Hockey Stadium to the 80-year-old golf course that extends out across the verdant Musashino Hills at the Kasumigaseki Country Club; from the Olympic Village built in the Harumi waterfront district of Tokyo that will become general residential apartments after the Games as part of a new community, to the archery field constructed in Yumenoshima Park, Tokyo


has been ready for over a year. But the question remains, will the world ever come? To watch a sports event as a neutral is virtually an oxymoron. To enjoy, participate in the drama and passion of a sporting event, to be there and live it – you have to care. Caring can take many forms: tribalism; antipathy or sympathy towards certain individuals; rooting for the underdog; the desire to have witnessed excellence or the schadenfreude of somebody’s disgrace. Whatever the motivation for ‘caring’, it is the essential element that gives the event its meaning for most spectators. Wherever we watch the Games from, on-site or on television, rooting is in our blood; we take sides as we take breath. We shall be cheering someone on, dreaming our choice will be the winner. Let’s just hope that not too many dreams evaporate like the morning mist across Tokyo Bay.


Below Ariake Gymnastics Centre, one of the few temporary constructions


Top Where gymnastics will play itself out, as well as boccia for Paralympics


ALL IMAGES: COURTESY OF TOKYO 2020


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