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Report prioritizes placing Tokyo 2020 Olympic cauldron on field or outside stadium

An image view of the New National Stadium, which will serve as the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. (Image provided by Japan Sport Council)

The cauldron for the Olympic flame at the new national stadium being built for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games could be set up either on a field in the stadium or outside it, a government report indicates.

    A government working team has been considering where the Olympic cauldron could be set up, listing the merits and demerits of four possible locations -- the field, the stands, the roof and outside the stadium. A working team report compiled on April 28 placed priority on the first and last options. A final decision on the place and design of the cauldron will be made at least 18 months before the start of the games.

    The games' organizing committee is poised to decide on an artistic director as early as next summer and consider the opening ceremony performance, but as the lighting of the Olympic flame is a main feature of the ceremony, the minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Toshiaki Endo, said that officials have not gone beyond basic concepts, to avoid fixing the performance into a set framework.

    The working team report says that if the Olympic flame were placed in the stands, this would reduce the stadium's planned capacity of 68,000 seats, and it would make it harder to secure the necessary number of seats for the opening ceremony. It therefore concludes that this option has some "issues requiring careful consideration." If the cauldron were placed on the roof, meanwhile, 50 to 70 percent of people at the stadium wouldn't be able to see it, and there would be difficulties with the structure and construction period. The report says the roof option presents the greatest number of issues. The field option and the choice to place the cauldron outside the stadium present the fewest technical restrictions, it says.

    The International Olympic Committee states that the Olympic cauldron should be set up in a place that can be seen by all spectators in the stadium at the opening ceremony, and that it can be seen by people outside the stadium during the games. The field option fulfills the first condition, but there remains criticism that it would obstruct viewing after the opening ceremony. This hints that the cauldron could be placed outside the stadium while the games are in progress.

    The position of the Olympic cauldron was not considered in the construction design for the new stadium, so the government set up a working team in March to probe the issue.

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