Tokyo prepares for 2025 track and field worlds in stadium built for delayed Olympics

TOKYO — Tokyo’s $1.4 billion National Stadium was without fans for the 2020 Olympics, delayed for a year and held in 2021 because of the pandemic.

The stadium, which has been open to fans since the Olympics, will get a second chance to show itself off to track and field followers when Japan’s capital is host of the 2025 track and field world championships.

“We are all looking forward to being here in Tokyo in a year’s time to celebrate a world championships in a stadium — on this occasion — with spectators,” Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, said Monday at a news conference in Tokyo to promote the event.

“We have a small test event in Paris this year,” Coe said, getting a laugh for his portrayal of this year’s Paris Olympics.

Coe mentioned the need to maintain “budgetary control” and also satisfy the “public of Tokyo” at the Sept. 13-21, 2025, event.

Coe spoke seated next to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who was among many Japanese politicians who faced criticism over Japan’s heavy spending on the Olympics. Organizers said Japan spent about $13 billion to organize the Games, although a government audit suggested it might have been twice that.

Neither Coe nor Koike took questions, which might have included costs and any role for Japanese advertising giant Dentsu. Dentsu, which has historic ties to World Athletics, has been ensnared in a massive bribery and corruption scandal around the Tokyo Olympics.

Mitsugi Ogata, the president of the local organizing committee, said the worlds would give the city — among other things — a chance to show off the “Tokyo brand.”

The pandemic kept the city from marketing itself through the Olympics. Even before the pandemic struck, the International Olympic Commmittee forced Tokyo to move the marathons to the northern city of Sapporo to avoid Tokyo’s scorching heat. The move angered Koike among others.

Weaving through Tokyo’s picturesque streets, organizers had hoped to use the marathons to show off one of the world’s cleanest and most modern cities.

Summer heat should not be a problem with the 2025 worlds being held at the start of the fall, or autumn, season.


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