By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – The Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was officially unveiled on a dreary and foggy morning in the Japanese capital on Saturday, the latest newly-built permanent venue to open on schedule.
The venue, which will host the kayak and canoe slalom at the July 24-August 9 Games next year, was the third purpose-built venue to be unveiled on schedule — a further indication of Tokyo’s readiness to host the summer showpiece.
A fourth, the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza, opened in late 2017 and will host badminton and the fencing component of the modern pentathlon but was not built specifically for the Games.
The construction of all venues for the Games is on schedule, organisers said.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike cut the ribbon to open the first man-made canoe slalom course in Japan on Saturday before various local canoeists took a run on the 200-metre course, including 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Takuya Haneda.
Haneda, who finished third in the C1 class at Rio, believes the proximity to central Tokyo will please visiting athletes.
“I have participated at the Games three times but I have never been to a venue so accessible from the centre of the city,” he said after testing out the course where he will compete next year.
“This venue is located next to such a big park and this is a great location.”
Built next to an aquarium in the south-east of Tokyo, the venue will be open to the public for canoeing and rafting following the Games.
The course and warm-up pool have been completed but temporary seating for 7,500 spectators still need to be installed and the administration building constructed.
There will be six days of competition at the centre across four events at the Games.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; additional reporting by Yoko Kono; editing by Nick Mulvenney)