BY MICHAEL PAVITT.
The Tokyo 2020 New National Stadium will officially open this Saturday with a special event featuring Olympic and Paralympic stars.
Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt is among the headliners set to participate in the opening of the new 60,000-capacity venue.
The retired Jamaican sprinter has already arrived in the Japanese capital.
He will help open the Stadium, which will host athletics competition during the Games, as well the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Construction work was completed on the Stadium on November 20.
It was a joint project between Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, building firm Taisei Corp and design firm Azusa Sekkei Co, which started in December 2016.
The new arena, constructed on the site of the National Stadium originally built in 1958 and which staged the 1964 Olympic Games, features a plant-covered facade designed to maintain harmony with the natural landscape of the neighboring Meiji Jingu Gaien area.
The eaves of the distinctive roof are made of wood gathered from the country’s 47 prefectures.
The Stadium is the second to be approved, after initial plans were scrapped in 2015 by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe due to spiralling costs.
It meant construction began about 14 months later than planned, after the original design by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid was discarded following a public outcry.
The completed Stadium is believed to have cost ¥157 billion (£1.2 billion/$1.4 billion/€1.3 billion).
The inauguration event has been titled “Hello Our Stadium”.
Bolt will feature as part of the proceedings, which are claimed to tie together sport, music and culture.
He will join Olympic and Paralympic athletes from other countries, including hosts Japan, in a unique relay, dubbed “One Race”.
Japanese sprinters Anna Doi, Aska Cambridge, Yoshihide Kiryu, Chisato Fukushima, Shota Iizuka, Shuhei Tada, Yuki Koike and Kana Ichikawa will participate.
Para-alpine skier Momoka Muraoka, Paralympic long jumper Saki Takakuwa and sprinter Syunsuke Itani will also feature.
Britain’s Paralympic stars Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock have been confirmed as participants, as well as The Netherlands’ Marlou van Rhijn, the United States’ Jarryd Wallace and Raymond Martin.
The inauguration event was ticketed for members of the public.
The Emperor’s Cup soccer final on January 1 is scheduled to be the first public sporting event held at the venue.
Japan’s Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda has announced that the Government has decided not to draw up a plan to privatise the new Stadium post-Games until after autumn in 2020.
According to Hagiuda, the privatisation scheme has been pushed back for security reasons, as detailed architectural drawings of the Stadium cannot be shown to potential bidders for the time being.
After undergoing renovations, the stadium is scheduled to start commercial operation in the second half of 2022.