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“Sweet” New Turf A Major Part Of Tokyo’s Field Hockey Stadium, The Most Sustainable In Olympic History

By Todd Kortemeier | Sept. 03, 2019, 12:48 p.m. (ET)


The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, and while they may be a year away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.


When they take the field at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the world’s best field hockey players might not realize the stadium they’re playing in is the most sustainable one in Olympic history. The turf they’ll play on is made from 60 percent sugar cane, needing two-thirds less water than past editions of Olympic turf.

The players need only care that the turf is among the best of its kind designed for increased performance and speed. Officially known as Poligras Tokyo GT, the turf is manufactured by Sport Group, maker of other well-known surfaces such as AstroTurf.

The environmentally-friendly turf supports two initiatives at once: the effort on behalf of the International Olympic Committee for Games to be carbon-neutral and an increased emphasis by the International Hockey Federation to play on more sustainable surfaces. The highest levels of competition in field hockey have been played on artificial surfaces since the 1970s, also requiring the addition of water to the pitch to reduce friction with the ball.



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The surface at the Oi Hockey Stadium, officially opened Aug. 17, reduces that need for water in addition to providing a durable and long-lasting surface to be enjoyed long after the Olympic competition ends. The stadium is expected to be used for soccer and lacrosse matches in addition to hockey. That reusability is another tick in the sustainability box, building venues that have a life and legacy after the Games.

In addition, the stadium features a variety of cooling methods for players, a necessity in Tokyo’s often humid climate. At the Olympic test event last month, which included temperatures in the high 90s, players benefited from a number of cooling systems such as misters, on-field fans and shaded areas to escape the heat.

Not competing at the test event was the U.S. women’s team, which still has a chance to qualify for the Games later this fall. Team USA is seeking to match or improve on its fifth-place finish in 2016, its best performance since 1996. The U.S. women will compete for Olympic qualification in October or November with the final seven spots at the Games up for grabs. Team USA’s opponent will be decided at a draw on Sept. 9.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.