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Tokyo completes gymnastics venue, prepares for Coordination Commission visit

Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers have unveiled their completed gymnastics venue, as they prepare for an IOC Coordination Commission visit this week that is expected to touch on the recent debate over the marathon venue.

The Ariake Gymnastics centre will seat 12,000 spectators for Olympic artistic, rhythmic and trampoline gymnastic events, and Paralympic boccia. Its construction made extensive use of Japanese cedar timber, in order to showcase the country’s traditional craftsmanship and as a nod to its location in former timber yards.

In a press release, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said the venue’s “on-time completion is further evidence that preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games are well on track”. Five of the eight new permanent venues for the Games have now been completed. Construction of the remaining three is “progressing according to schedule”. Tokyo 2020 will have 43 venues in total, including 25 pre-existing venues, and 10 temporary ones.

This week’s Coordination Commission event will include a visit to the new, completed Oi Hockey Stadium today, and a joint press conference tomorrow by John Coates, chairman of the Coordination Commission; Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director at the IOC; Yoshiro Mori president of Tokyo 2020; and Toshiro Muto, chief executive of Tokyo 2020.

Kyodo News reports that the IOC’s intention to move the marathon and race walking events out of Tokyo will be discussed during the visit, and that the city of Tokyo, which is unhappy about the move, may present an alternative proposal. The IOC is concerned about the effect on athletes of the summer heat in Tokyo.

The IOC sets up a Coordination Commission for each games to monitor and report on their preparation and organisation. It includes representatives of the IOC, international federations, National Olympic Committees, athletes and third-party experts.

Torch details

Late last week, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee announced details of the ceremony to mark the arrival in Japan of the Olympic flame from Greece, on March 20 next year. The ceremony will be the first event on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay.

The flame will be lit on March 12 at Ancient Olympia in Greece, then will go on a week-long torch relay in that country. A flame handover ceremony will take place at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on March 19. An aircraft bearing the message “Tokyo 2020 Go” and Olympics-related artwork on its body will transport the flame to Japan, arriving March 20.

Former Japanese Olympians Tadahiro Nomura (wrestling) and Saori Yoshida (judo), along with local children, will escort the flame as it arrives and disembarks the plane, and as a ceremony takes place at the JASDF Matsushima Air Base in the Miyagi prefecture.

A display of the flame in the Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures from March 20 to 25, entitled ‘Flame of Recovery’, will follow. This reflects one of the key themes of the games for the organisers – Japan’s recovery from the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The torch relay will begin on March 26, and will visit 857 municipalities, in all 47 of Japan’s prefectures, over 121 days.