Tokyo, Oct 24 (efe-epa).- The aquatic center to be used at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo was inaugurated Saturday, eight months after it was completed and ready to host the competitions originally scheduled to begin on July 23 before it was postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
With a seating capacity for 15,000 spectators, the center is located in Tokyo Bay, in a four-story building comprising of a basement. It has a 50 meter long swimming pool and another one for trampoline jumps.
Olympic competitions for swimming, trampoline jumping and artistic swimming will be held at this center, one of six sites built especially by the Tokyo authorities for the Games.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto. Japanese athletes also arrived and carried out some demonstration acts.
Among these athletes were Rikako Ikee, 20, a free-style and butterfly specialist, who became an Olympic symbol for Japan for having recovered from leukemia that kept her away from the sport for more than a year.
Ikee took part in a 50-meter relay event, which comes two months after she returned to the pools after completing treatment for leukemia after being diagnosed in February 2019.
The star swimmer of Japan will not participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games, hence, her participation in the inauguration ceremony had a special significance. She has now set her eyes on the 2024 Games in Paris.
“After seeing the pool I have realized that this is where the Olympic Games will take place,” the swimmer said in a statement in Japanese through her agent.
The construction of the center was completed in February and the idea was to inaugurate it in March, however it was stalled by the announcement of the Games being postponed by a year on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
Koike, making an address at the ceremony, expressed hope that the novel coronavirus would be overcome and Tokyo could host the Olympics successfully.
The aquatic center is built over an area of 65,000 square meters and its construction cost about 56.7 billion yen (around $541 million). EFE-EPA