The Aquatics Centre was due to officially open
on March 22 but that event was cancelled over coronavirus fears.
Two days later the entire Tokyo Games was postponed until 2021.
Organisers hope to welcome the world’s top swimmers and divers
to the centre next year, as well as up to 15,000 fans.
Organisers have yet to decide, however, whether supporters will
be allowed into venues during the Games.
The opening ceremony, with hundreds of officials in attendance,
struck a hopeful tone. Koike was keen to stress that the $523
million Aquatics Centre will benefit Tokyo residents as well as
The ceremony was followed by diving and swimming exhibitions by
Japanese athletes, including Rikako Ikee, whose battle back from
leukaemia has been seen as a reflection of the Games’ own
attempt at resurrection.
"There have been some unexpected things such as the
postponement, but we need to hold a successful Games," Koike
"I really hope that the wonderful swimmers can unleash their
powers and the world’s top swimmers exhibit great performances
at this centre.
"By seeing Ikee in a healthy condition and her energetic swim
(today), I have received courage."
All of Tokyo’s Olympic venues were built or renovated on
schedule for the Games, ready if they had gone ahead this year.
Organisers are now focusing on how to stage the world’s biggest
sporting event amid a pandemic next July.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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