Updated: Dec 14, 2021
The Summer Olympics is an enormous worldwide sporting event held every four years created for the sole purpose of promoting unity and cooperation amongst the nations of the world. Countless talented athletes arrive from over 200 countries to a predetermined city in which the Olympic Games take place. While the sporting events themselves are the main attraction, a less appreciated aspect is the infrastructure put in place to support the immense influx of tourists and athletes alike. This infrastructure consists of anything from stadiums to hotels to parking lots, and the construction projects are sure to be a spectacle to see when the Games take place.
The Athletes’ Village, the main center of the Olympics, is built on an artificial island in Tokyo. The residences in the Village run on hydrogen energy as well as the buses that transport the athletes from venue to venue. The power of renewable energy is evidently in full force here, with solar panels and geothermal energy being put to use in 37 out of the 38 venues. The stadium hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, the National Stadium, was designed by Kengo Kuma and can seat up to 68,000 people. It will also host athletics events such as Track and Field as well as soccer games. Kengo Kuma, who is known for designing buildings out of natural materials, has used wood from all 47 of Japan’s prefectures in the stadium.
Another large building made for the Olympics is the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. One fascinating aspect of this build is that its 10-meter thick roof was constructed before the rest of the building and it was raised to a height of 37 meters in 3 stages. This mechanism reportedly saved time and money while also helping worker safety. The Tokyo Aquatics Center will be hosting all of the swimming events of the Summer Olympics, with its 50-meter pool being able to be split into two 25-meter pools if necessary, with the depth of the pool also being adjustable. The Tokyo Aquatics Center will undergo through lots of use after the Olympics as well, hosting over a million visitors each year.
However, not all of the venues for this year’s Summer Olympics have been made from scratch; some of the old venues from past Olympics hosted in Tokyo have been reused for this year, saving a prodigious amount of both time and money. One such example is the Yoyogi National Stadium, which previously hosted aquatics and basketball games, but will host handball this year. This stadium has been refurbished for 2021 to enable stronger earthquake resistance and to create more access for all of the incoming spectators. Its design combines modern architecture and classic Japanese craftsmanship to create a stunning work of art truly fit for the Olympics.
Coming back to the watery side of things, the Tatsumi International Swimming Centre is a breathtaking venue built to host the water polo events of the Olympics. The roof is completely white with a space-frame design sure to impress spectators. The shape of the building is modern and curvy, tying in with the design language of the rest of the venues built for the Olympics. In the past, it has hosted multiple Japanese swimming competitions and it will continue to do the same in the future after this year’s Games.
Another legacy building from the 1964 Olympics is the Nippon Budokan. It is known for hosting martial arts events while doubling as a music venue, having hosted bands like the Beatles before. The Nippon Budokan’s unmistakable roof resembles Mount Fuji. Its concrete base, on the other hand, brings memories of traditional East Asian temples, like the Horyuji Buddhist Temple which is actually the oldest wooden building in the world. The Nippon Budokan was where judo made its entry into the Olympics, and will be where karate also enters the Games this year.
While the Olympic Games will no doubt be an enormous success due to the amazing athletes participating, a quite underrated aspect of the Games will be the venues built for it. Obviously, without the infrastructure, the events have no chance of occurring. From the National Stadium to the Aquatics Centre to the Nippon Budokan, the buildings and venues created for the 2021 Tokyo Games are truly an Olympic feat.
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