Friday, August 14, 2015

Temporary Track Still Planned for New Olympic Stadium - "No Land Nearby"

translated by Brett Larner

Despite strong demands from JAAF officials for a permanent sub-track to be included in forthcoming revised plans for the New National Stadium that will be the flagship venue of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, on Aug. 13 it was confirmed that only a temporary sub-track will be built.

On July 29 JAAF officials including chairman Hiroshi Yokokawa and executive board member Naoko Takahashi visited Olympic Games Committee executive Toshiaki Endo to confirm the status of the plans for a sub-track and stress the importance of a permanent one from a former athlete's point of view.  However, multiple government officials told them that there were no plans for a permanent sub-track, saying, "There is no land nearby [for a permanent sub-track], so there is no chance but to stick with the original plans for a temporary sub-track."

Without a permanent sub-track the new stadium will not be able to be used to host either international events like the World Championships or national-level events like the National Sports Festival, National High School Championships and National Junior High School Championships.  Takahashi commented, "Not being able to hold the National Sports Festival or High School Nationals after the Olympics is a fatal mistake."

On Aug. 14 the government is hosting a ministerial meeting chaired by Endo to finalize the essential policies for the revised New National Stadium plans.  Although the sub-track is not yet referred to as "temporary" therein, it is expected to be labeled as such in the revised construction budget plans to be released later this month.  The temporary track is likely to be built inside the grounds of a nearby softball facility.

Translator's note: Largely as a consequence of the major running boom in Japan since 2007 brought about by the Tokyo Marathon, itself originally conceived of as a way to demonstrate that Tokyo was competent to host a modern Olympics, there is a major shortage of public track facilities in central Tokyo.  The lone 8-lane, 400 m track regularly accessible to the public, Shibuya's Oda Field, has undergone increasingly frequent resurfacing due to the increased traffic and the resulting wear-and-tear and is said to be scheduled to be closed for another round of resurfacing from this October through next March, leaving the countless running clubs and independents from amateur to pro, junior high school to corporate national champions, who use it with few to no options for relocating their regular workouts.  Beyond the JAAF's apparent concern exclusively about the consequences for its ability to stage elite events, with such enormous demand for more public facilities it is absolutely irresponsible for the Tokyo Olympic Committee to not take the steps necessary to ensure that the healthy fitness-oriented lifestyle enjoyed by countless thousands of Tokyo residents remains as a key legacy of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.


TokyoRacer said...

Oh no, they're closing our track for six months??!! I hope some of the clubs start organizing a protest about that. It shouldn't take six months, for crissake.
That is the ONLY track available free to the public in Tokyo, and it's not even available every day.

Michael Currinder said...

A perfect time to showcase the beauty of Ajinomoto and/or Fuchu venues:) Hope it gets sorted or you'll need to go old school and find off track alternatives. Best, Mike