Fans, athletes and organizers are counting down the days until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Despite now having been postponed to July 2021, the event is keeping its name and the focus on constructing an unparalleled Olympic experience for both fans and athletes continues. The athletes are preparing once again for qualifying rounds and test events, the venues and infrastructure are completed awaiting the final touches, modifications and decorations that signify that final stretch before Opening Ceremonies. For years now, organizers and collaborators have been hard at work putting together an Olympic Games that would honor the legacy of Tokyo 1964 and unite that with the innovative thinking that has driven the construction of Tokyo 2020’s infrastructure.

Companies such as Dow, the Official Chemistry Company of the Olympic Games, combined their expertise in materials science with the know-how of local architects, developers and customers to deliver high-performance Olympic venues at Tokyo 2020. Dow’s technologies can be found working behind the scenes throughout the Olympic Games, from the game signage to the tennis courts and beyond, helping define the legacy of Tokyo 2020. Across the landscape of the Olympic Games, high-performance building solutions will help insulate, seal, connect, coat and protect new and existing venues, and deliver sustainability gains long after the closing ceremonies.

High-Performance Solutions for a Powerful Legacy

Tokyo 2020 will feature a total of 43 venues—including 8 new permanent structures, 25 existing venues and 10 temporary sites. Organizers found ways to repurpose the existing venues from Tokyo 1964 and reimagine their legacies to see how they can serve the city and its residents for the next decade and beyond. The retrofitted Tokyo 1964 venues help highlight Tokyo’s history and heritage while the new and temporary venues showcase the country’s vibrant future and celebrate Japan’s fortitude, environmentalism and innovation.

Olympic Stadium, the main venue for Tokyo 1964 and home of the opening and closing ceremonies for Tokyo 2020, was redesigned with several Dow technologies in paints, coatings, insulation, and wiring. These technologies will be working during the Olympic Games to protect, enhance and maintain the integrity and performance of key infrastructure systems in the Stadium.

Concrete structures like the Olympic Stadium are at risk of expanding during the summer months when Tokyo has an average temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. To help properly equip this venue, polyurethane sealants made with VORANOL Polyether Polyols filled the gaps between building materials to enhance safety and stability. This technology will help keep the integrity of the building intact for years to come, as it plays host to countless national and international events.

Originally making history with the 1964 debut of judo, Nippon Budokan will again have the opportunity to feature the history-making premiere of another sport to the Olympic Games, karate. As one of the venues with a rich heritage that is still expanding, structural protection is key. DOWANOL Glycol Ethers used in the water-based coating system help maximize paint adhesion, optimize drying time, and prevent damage to ensure the venue remains free of cracks. This same technology was used when redesigning Tokyo Stadium, the home for football, rugby, and modern pentathlon competition for Tokyo 2020. The venue also used Dow ELASTENE Acrylic Emulsions for metal and concrete coatings to help protect the exterior surfaces from corrosion and moisture damage. These coatings use substances that reduce air pollution, meeting low VOC regulatory requirements.

In addition to DOWANOL, the multi-sport venue Musashino Forest Sport Plaza used PRIMAL Acrylic Polymer in paint to protect the integrity of interior walls and provide a durable aesthetic for well after the badminton and fencing competitions have concluded. These polymers are also found in paint throughout the Ariake Gymnastics Centre—which will showcase gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline competitions— to provide long term durability.

This facility is one of the 10 temporary structures of Tokyo 2020 and will be repurposed after the Olympic Games are over. The Gymnastics Centre uses ELASTENE Elastomeric Wall Coatings to help shield the exterior walls by providing dirt pick-up and water resistance for enduring protection. The venue will have a lasting impact on Japan, as the seating and competition area will be removed and the building will reopen as an exhibition hall for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

To provide real-time global coverage of the Olympic Games, the media will be working hard from a 265,000+ square meter International Broadcast Centre. The connecting corridor that links this exhibition center with the Main Press Center leverages DOWSIL Silicone Sealants, giving the glass façade a sleek look without metal frames. The sealant has excellent adhesion and weather protection and helps absorb movement between the structure’s elements that occur from changing temperatures. It also helps improve the energy efficiency of the structure through enabling better thermal insulation of the façade.

DOWSIL Silicone Sealants, and polyurethane sealants enabled by VORANOL Polyols will also be at work in the Olympic Village where athletes from all over the world will be during their downtime. The comfort and safety of athletes was at the top of mind when constructing these temporary homes. These sealants will help prevent the ingress of air and moisture, and they may help in the unlikely event of a fire where sealants can be used around windows, doors and elevators to provide added resistance. On top of retarding the fire, the fumes created would not generate toxic elements, allowing the structure to last longer and help ensure safer evacuation of athletes.

Dow has collaborated with organizers and local partners to provide innovative and sustainable solutions that improve the Olympic experience for host cities, athletes and fans everywhere.

Creating a Winning Atmosphere

With millions of eyes on the Olympic Games, aesthetic is important. As such, Dow technologies will be working to help define the look and feel of Tokyo 2020. Dow’s solutions go beyond the venues to enhance the atmosphere, excitement and accessibility of the Olympic experience.

To help bring the unique atmosphere that enhances the emotional connection to Tokyo 2020 in a sustainable way, a new polyolefin-based fabric for banners with improved recyclability has been developed by a local partner using Dow elastomers in the surface membrane. Banners, which are likely to be leveraged on the exteriors of popular buildings all around Tokyo and beyond, and are typically destined for landfills or incineration, can be recycled into chairs, bricks, flowerpots and other functional items after the conclusion of the Olympic Games.

The aesthetic of Tokyo 2020 isn’t just on the walls, it’s on the ground too. At Yumenoshima Park Archery Field, DOWLEX Polyethylene Resins were leveraged in the turf in order to help enable iconic logo designs for spectators.  

To help share this winning atmosphere and the intensity of the competition with the world, materials science solutions are also at work in the broadcast technology of certain venues. Dow AXELERON Compounds were used as an insulation layer in telecommunication wires in the Olympic Stadium, Ariake Arena, Tokyo Aquatics Center and Oi Hockey Stadium. The wire solution aids in ensuring transmission speeds and signals are as efficient and reliable as possible, reducing the risk of signal loss, while boosting the signal’s energy efficiency by 30 percent1. This will allow fans worldwide to experience in real-time the feeling of history in the making.

Looking Beyond the Games

Dow is a proud supporter of the Olympic Movement and is committed to providing solutions that unlock the potential of people and science, while valuing nature and building courageous collaborations. The technologies leveraged at Tokyo 2020 will help extend the life of the venues and build a new legacy for Tokyo and Japan.

While science and sports may seem like an unlikely combination, they are both centered on breaking new ground, setting new records and figuring out ways to be smarter and go further than we ever have before. The Olympic Games are not just a display of sportsmanship and athleticism; they can also serve as an inspiration for organizations and companies to innovate, collaborate and take specific action to deliver a positive impact.