New National Stadium opens to public

The main venue of next year's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was opened to the public for the first time on Saturday. 2020 people, the same number as the year of the Games, were selected for an event to test out the running track at the recently completed new National Stadium.

The people jogged one lap around the 400-meter track. Some took part in a relay, with each runner carrying a baton 50 meters.

Yoshihide Kiryu, the first Japanese sprinter to break the 10-second barrier in the men's 100-meter dash, ran the anchor leg for one of the teams.

"The Olympics are going to be here in about half a year," Kiryu said. "So I'm really glad I was able to come and feel what it's like to run on this track."

the public runs at the new track of new National Stadium
The first runner for every relay team was an Olympic or Paralympic medalist.

The new National Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of next year's games, along with a range of competitions, including track events and soccer matches.

The facility's design incorporates elements of traditional Japanese aesthetics and modern engineering. The location, within one of Tokyo's largest gardens, is a significant part of the overall motif. The venue has been dubbed "The Stadium in the Forest" and has approximately 60,000 spectator seats, colored in green, brown, and three other earthy tones.

National Stadium uses traditional building techniques with lumber
It is hoped the color patterns in the seats will give the stadium a lively atmosphere even when it is not full.

The stadium's roof was constructed with steel and lumber from all 47 of the country's prefectures. One section is made of glass, which allows for more sunlight to hit the natural grass field.

The roof also features wooden eaves that are built on an angle to allow for better airflow. The design is said to help cool the stadium.

The stadium's construction was not without controversy. An early stage design was scrapped after the projected price tag ballooned to 2 billion dollars. The final plan came out at around 1.4 billion dollars, which was within the government limits for a budget.

In just over half a year, the new National Stadium will become the center of the sporting world. For Olympic fans and members of the Japanese public, Saturday's opening is just the beginning of a year of excitement.

Watch Video: 03:14