Inside Look: Ariake Gymnastics Centre

By Chris Korotky

Artistic Gymnastics events in Tokyo will take place in the newly constructed Ariake Gymnastics Centre, which initially completed construction well ahead of schedule when the Games were planned for 2020. Rhythmic Gymnastics and Trampoline will also be contested in this $188 million dollar venue.

Capacity 

Originally planned with a seating capacity for 12,000 fans, COVID restrictions that now prohibit spectators mean that only athletes, judges, coaches, delegation officials, venue operators and media will be allowed in during competition.

Location

The Ariake Gymnastics Centre is located in the northern part of Tokyo’s Ariake district. The venue is ideally situated within the Olympic Grounds, just a few minutes driving distance to the Athletes Village, the Main Press Center and other key points of the expansive Olympic Ground footprint. 

Inspiration

Built on the site of an area used in the past for wood storage, timber is the guiding inspiration for the site. From the expansive arches of the ceiling beams to the wooden spectator seating sections on the ground, Japanese craftsman ship is on display at every vantage point. “The futuristic-looking Ariake Gymnastics Centre in central Tokyo uses 2,300 cubic meters of wood and is intended to hark back to traditional building techniques that predated the use of modern materials,” according to the Japan Times. “The structure features a gently undulating roof, with external walls constructed from lengths of cedar wood. Supporting rods allow the building to look from a distance as though it is suspended in the air. Organizers said it was intended to look like a ‘a wooden bowl, floating in the bay area…and symbolizes Japan’s wood culture and viewers can feel its simple beauty.”

One of the original intents of the interior design was to make the athletes and spectators feel as one. Ironically, with spectators now not a part of the Games, the intimate design coupled with the organic wood motif may help the venue to not feel as deserted.

TV in These Times

Until the Games actually air, no one knows exactly how the broadcast of this Olympics like no other will actually look and feel. We do know that some of the faked piped-in noise part of other sports broadcasts during the pandemic will not be infused, at least not by the American broadcaster, though some venues are considering an internal source.

“NBC will not be adding artificial crowd noise to the audio mix that America hears,” NBC Olympics executive producer Molly Solomon recently said on a media conference call. “We’re told that some of the sports venues may experiment with ambient crowd noise to generate atmosphere for the athletes. That will be a work in progress, and you’ll hear that on the mix that NBC uses.”

Our Inside Gymnastics team on site will try to provide as much detail of the atmosphere in the arena through our coverage on this website and on our social media to provide some color commentary regarding the feel of the venue. Here’s to Good Vibes!

Post-Games

After the Games conclude, the interior of Ariake is going to be reconfigured in parts and renovated to create more space to eventually host “cultural events and exhibitions,” according to Japanese officials. With its beautiful detail and timeless design the intriguing venue should stand the test of time for years to come!

Photos courtesy of 2020 Olympics and Kyle Shewfelt

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