From Inside the Games
A small-scale opening ceremony and the “One Race” event featuring eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt officially opened the New National Stadium built for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Construction work on the new 60,000-capacity venue was completed on November 20.
The inauguration event, which had been titled “Hello Our Stadium”, allowed members of the public to test out the track at the Stadium.
A total of 2,020 people were selected following a draw to complete a lap of the track.
Kyodo News reported that Japanese sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu, Athens Olympic women’s marathon gold medallist Mizuki Noguchi and two-time Olympic marathon medalist Yuko Arimori were among the guest runners.
The event was started by Kengo Kuma, the Japanese architect in charge of the project.
Building firm Taisei Corp and design firm Azusa Sekkei Co had collaborated with Kuma on the Stadium, where construction began in December 2016.
Bolt participated in a combined relay event with Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
“It was a great experience being in here and running in front of so many people,” Bolt said, according to Reuters.
“I was happy and excited because I won’t be getting to compete at the Olympics so the fact that I got to run on the track was an experience in itself.
“I am actually in pain right now from the little run I just did.”
Japanese sprinters Anna Doi, Aska Cambridge, Yoshihide Kiryu, Chisato Fukushima, Shota Iizuka, Shuhei Tada, Yuki Koike and Kana Ichikawa were among the participants in the relay.
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) December 21, 2019