Tokyo 2020 unveils sustainable athletes village plaza

FILE PHOTO: Giant Olympic Rings are installed at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, ahead of an official inauguration ceremony, six months before the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - When the world's top athletes meet in Tokyo for the Olympics in July, they'll be spending some of their downtime in a communal space built mostly out of reusable timber.

Organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Wednesday unveiled the athletes village plaza, which was made from 40,000 pieces of timber donated by 63 Japanese municipal governments.

After the Games, the 2.4 billion yen (16.73 million pounds)building will be dismantled and the timber returned to the donating municipalities for re-use in local facilities. Each donated piece is marked with the name of the area that provided the wood.

"The main feature (of Tokyo 2020) is that plenty of timber is used, not only in this village plaza, but also in other venues," Tokyo 2020 venues sustainability manager Nariki Makihara told Reuters.

The plaza will host the official welcome ceremonies of all the National Olympic Committees. It will also provide a social hub for athletes during the Games, featuring a general store and cafe.

The wooden structure, which draws on Japanese minimalist design aesthetics, follows Tokyo 2020 theme of using timber in the construction of Olympics venues, including the National Stadium.

Tokyo's Olympics organisers also aim to offset all carbon emissions generated during the Games, which begins on July 24.

Environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have previously accused Tokyo 2020 organisers of failing to end the use of timber associated with rainforest destruction and human rights abuses. Organisers dispute those claims.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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