The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed Odaiba Marine Park near the heart of Tokyo as its open water swimming venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Similar to the Serpentine at the 2012 London Olympics, the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim will be conducted in the middle of one of the world’s greatest cities, a densely populated, smoothly running metropolis.
Olympic 800-meter freestyle gold medalist Ai Shibata says of the venue, “Odaiba’s beach is a stunning backdrop for the event and together with Tokyo’s passionate sport fans, we look forward to cheering on the elite athletes who will compete here in Tokyo.”
1988 Olympic 100m backstroke champion Dr. Daichi Suzuki, currently president of the Japan Swimming Federation said, “I believe that Tokyo will provide an incredible stage for memorable performances, and am greatly excited by the prospect of seeing world-class athletes competing here.”
Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was initially built for defensive purposes in the 1850s, dramatically expanded during the late 20th century as a seaport district, and was later developed beginning in the 1990s as a major commercial, residential and leisure area.
Odaiba was initially a series of six island fortresses constructed in 1853 for the shogunate to protect Edo (modern-day Tokyo) from attack from the sea, the primary threat being Commodore Matthew Perry’s Black Ships which had arrived in the same year. “Daiba” in Japanese refers to the cannon batteries placed on the islands.
The Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Odaiba will incorporate some very cool technologies. Not only will athletes be in full view of grandstands along a well-designed shopping and entertainment destination and compete in warm 22°C water with only a slight bit of tidal action and very slight potential for wind-generated surface chop, but the athletes will also be tracked by centimeter-scale GPS technology unique to Japan.
Mitsubishi is currently building the world’s first commercial, nationwide, centimeter-scale GPS system that will enable more precise, accurate, and reliable positioning, navigation, and timing services.
Currently this centimeter-scale level of GPS precision is not possible in non-military applications, but the Quazi-Zenith Satellite System will utilize a constellation of 7 different satellites and a ground network of 1,200 reference stations. One of the 7 satellites will always be positioned in a narrow path over Japan that will enable precision – on average – to be about 1.3 cm horizontally and 2.9 cm vertically.
While this will help with mapping, car navigation, personal navigation, and emergency systems for land-based individuals, its possibilities for accuracy in tracking the positioning and final placing of open water swimmers will be an innovation in the evolution of the sport.
For more information on the Quasi-zenith Satellite System, visit here.