By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – Sea Forest Waterway, which will play host to rowing events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, opened on Sunday with the sport’s world governing body praising organisers for delivering a “world class” venue on schedule.
Sprint canoeing as well as para-rowing and para-canoeing will also feature at the newly-built venue next year.
International Rowing Federation president Jean-Christophe Rolland, himself an Olympic gold medallist from Sydney 2000, was glad the venue was completed on time.
“Everything has been on track, on time and I am very pleased more than one year before the Olympic Games to be in such a position without any major issues,” Rolland told reporters.
“There are still some little things to improve but I can say we can be relieved we will have a good course for the Olympic Games.”
The course, which is 2,300 metres long, has been constructed on canals in Tokyo Bay and is next to a former landfill site, which has been turned into a forest in time for the Games.
There are approximately 2,000 seats in a permanent grandstand, while upto 16,000 spectators can be accommodated daily during the Olympics with help of temporary seating and standing areas.
On a sunny but blustery day, the conversation revolved around the possibility of wind affecting race conditions on a course with very little natural protection from the elements.
Several dozen rowers and canoeists managed to successfully complete a demonstration on Sunday despite the conditions and Rolland said he was unfazed.
“Of course the wind, if it is too strong, might be an issue but this is the fourth time I have come here to Tokyo and this is the first time I have seen it so strong,” said the Frenchman.
“On an eight day programme I hope we will find time easily where the wind is not too strong and that we can have a good competition.”
The Sea Forest Waterway is one of just eight permanent new venues being built for Tokyo 2020. Construction for all the venues is on schedule, with the archery venue already being completed and unveiled in April.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)