This past Saturday was the public grand opening of the National Stadium that will be used for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Winners of a ticket lottery were able to look around the stadium and enjoy a special opening event that included traditional dances, performances by athletes and musical artists.
Since Accessible Japan has been working with Asahi Shimbun (newspaper) on video content about accessibility in Tokyo, we were able to visit as press and were guided around for a tour of accessibility options.
After getting press badges, we headed up to the main courtyard in front of the stadium for the opportunity to interview Mr. Junichi Kawai from the Japanese Paralympic Committee. Mr. Kawai has won numerous medals for swimming and has been inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame. He is not stopping yet though, this time he has decided to enter as a participant in the marathon event for Tokyo 2020! When the interview comes out, please be sure to watch and hear his hopes for the Paralympics in Tokyo.
We then looked at a number of accessibility features on the outside of the stadium. There were many ramps and elevators available to get from the adjacent station in a smooth manner. For those with visual impairments, audio guidance, tactile maps and even a toilet for guide dogs was available – a first for a stadium in Japan.
The ticket counters are low and have plenty of foot room for wheelchair users (the food stalls inside also are at wheelchair height with legroom), and each gate has an extra wide ticket wicket with a staff member on hand to help with ticket scanning.
Inside the stadium, there are numerous accessible toilets in various configurations (left/right orientation, ostomate facilities, privacy curtains, adult sized changing beds, etc) and calm down rooms for those who need a break from the noise and crowds.
There are also many accessible seating options for wheelchair users. There are accessible seats around the entire perimeter of the first floor and various wheelchair seating sections on the other floors as well to provide a number of options for visitors. The seats themselves have fixed seating for companions (not just portable folding chairs!) and come in different configurations as well. They also have a very clear view of the action. Expanded accessible seating options will be available during the Paralympic Games.
It was a great first look at the impressive stadium that will be used by thousands of visitors of various abilities in 2020 and beyond. Let us know what you think in the comments!