(ATR) Skateboarding, one of five new sports set to join the Olympic program at Tokyo 2020, held its first official Olympic Test Event on Friday at the sun-soaked Ariake Urban Sports Park on the shores of Tokyo Bay.
The Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event was due to take place on Thursday and Friday at the new legacy venue for the Tokyo Bay Zone but was amended to a one-day competition due to torrential rain on Thursday.
The event, held with 70 days to go until the Games, was conducted in coordination with World Skate, the Lausanne-based world governing body for roller sports which gained IOC recognition in 2017.
While the host city of the much-debated Olympiad remains among the prefectures in an extended state of emergency, and with the newly-hit prefectures of Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima set to be added on Sunday, Tokyo 2020 conducted a low-key trial for the sport in the Park and Street events ahead of Skateboarding’s anticipated Olympic debut.
The temporary venue, which is adjacent to the BMX Freestyle and BMX Racing venues – the latter being still under construction – has a backdrop of the Tokyo Bay skyline and, in the distance, Tokyo Skytree, the popular attraction and tallest tower in the world.
With a pivotal decision over whether residents of Japan will be able to attend events this summer still to be made, today’s test event was conducted without fans.
However, a horde of media were in attendance, having been requested to monitor their health and temperature for the last seven days and underwent multiple temperature checks upon arrival to the venue in addition to the now customary hand sanitizing.
Journalists were able to access the Press Tribune, Mixed Zone and Venue Press Centre while photographers and camera operators also filled the tribune and the fringes of the field of play.
As the temperature creeped up to the mid 20s (70s Fahrenheit) by midday, young local athletes braved the heat to enjoy their moment in the sun and delivered some dazzling displays and showed their mettle after several were overly ambitious and were wiped out but stayed the course in every sense.
This event was in keeping with all traditional Olympic test events in that it was no frills with limited branding and spotlight as it was held to test the running of the competition, the facilities and to familiarize staff, officials and the media with how the event will run.
Results from such tests events are usually of no significance and this was the case at the skateboarding where athletes were selected at random to take part in the medal ceremony at the end of the day.
Background music and live commentary in English and Japanese accompanied the athletes taking part in both the street and park events.
The young athletes were the most enthused people in the venue as they were the center of the attention while the staff and members of the media sampled the skateboarding experience in a test event environment following the sport being accepted onto the Olympic program during an IOC vote at the 2016 IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Test Event staff held up signs during the event asking attendees to wear their mask at all times, to maintain social distancing, wear their mask while talking to others and to regularly sanitize their hands. These protocols were all followed at the competition venue and in the Venue Press Centre.
Skateboarding’s Olympic program features two different events, Park and Street, and has a separate but adjoined course for each event.
The park event, which took place first on Friday, replicates a park terrain with transitional concrete bowls and competitors have three attempts to perform their best run consisting of multiple tricks in a 45 second window.
The street event replicates an urban terrain and requires athletes to perform a timed run featuring a series of tricks during a 45 second window and secondly a ‘trick’ run where they have five attempts to perform different tricks of their choice.
Friday’s test event included 20 young Japanese athletes competing while the Olympics will feature 80 athletes (40 men, 40 women).
The Skateboarding competition at Tokyo 2020 will take place July 25-26 (Street) and August 4-5 (Park).
The test event schedule for the Games is nearing completion. The 3x3 basketball test event began on Friday and runs through Sunday. BMX Freestyle cycling and shooting are scheduled for next week. Dates for the water polo and artistic swimming test events are still to be confirmed.
Homepage photo: ATR
Written and reported by Mark Pickering in Tokyo
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