Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the last of the newly built permanent venues for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, was unveiled on Saturday (24 October) after a seven-month delay due to the global pandemic - but it was well worth the wait.
The state-of-the-art 15,000-seater finally opened to a ceremony featuring comeback kid Ikee Rikako and Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko but the main attraction on this day was undoubtedly the arena itself.
Ikee took a lap, freestyle, in the sparkling pool, raving about the venue which will be used for the swimming, artistic swimming and diving competitions next summer.
“When I got here and had a look at the pool, it all started to sink in - that the Olympics is coming here next year”, Ikee said in a statement.
“It was comfortable to swim in because it’s three meters deep and I think it’s a great arena”.
Within walking distance of the old mecca of Japanese swimming, Tatsumi International Swimming Center, the Tokyo Aquatics Centre is nothing short of gorgeous - and high-tech.
Both the main and sub pools have moveable floors and walls that allow for unique flexibility.
The pool can be split into two adjacent short-course pools, with the starting blocks capable of being adjusted anywhere inside 50 meters.
The depth can also change by up to three meters.
The water temperature is maintained by an environmentally friendly geothermal heating device, and the design of the ceiling is inspired by origami, the Japanese papercraft.
The Aquatics Centre is one of eight venues built from scratch for the Games that have been postponed to 23 July-8 August, 2021. It was originally set to be inaugurated 22 March before the outbreak of COVID-19.
Japan could win a bulk of their medals next summer at the arena, having traditionally done well in swimming. At Rio 2016, they won nine of their record 41 medals in the pool.
Koike could barely contain her enthusiasm ahead of next summer.
“With this, the venues that were specifically built for the Tokyo Olympics are now all complete”, she said.
“I get excited just thinking about the top athletes from Japan and the rest of the world that will be putting on a show here”.