The New Zealand Olympic Committee’s HQ opened in style at The Cloud base in Auckland last night.
A large group of about 350 people, including former New Zealand Olympic representatives, sponsors and friends were in attendance and were entertained by MC, singer Jackie Clarke, along with speeches from both NZOC president Mike Stanley at the Cloud and chief executive Kereyn Smith, beamed in from Tokyo.
A group of Taiko drummers greeted guests upon arrival, providing a contrast from the New Zealand musical performances.
The Cloud fanzone is a first and is designed as a base for New Zealand team friends and whanau and Olympic family members.
There was plenty of interest in the live interviews with New Zealand’s joint flagbearers Hamish Bond and Sarah Hirini, who brought an emotional element in talking about the recent death of her mother.
She revealed she would be carrying a photograph of her mother on the march past.
For Bond, the day was tinged with disappointment as a change in the rowing schedule ruled the double Olympic champion from fulfilling his flagbearing role.
Boxer David Nyika will now share the responsibility with Hirini.
Surfer Billy Stairmand – representing one of the new Olympic sports – spoke, as did New Zealand’s chef de mission Rob Waddell while former sevens rugby legend, now NZOC staffer, DJ Forbes, provided a walk through the New Zealand space in Tokyo.
Former Olympic champion, rower Mahe Drysdale was among the high profile guests, having looked on approvingly earlier at New Zealand’s first day on the water of the Sea Forest Waterway.
Simon van Velthooven, bronze medal winner in the keirin at the London Olympics in 2012 before turning his sporting talents to being on the Emirates New Zealand sailing team, was another adding to the star power of the event.
There was plenty of favourable comment about the venue, and Stanley paid tribute to the vast amount of work put in by volunteers, sponsors and staff to make the opening of the fanzone a memorable occasion.
NZHQ is open to the public today. It has a capacity of 1500 and with a bright interactive zone for the younger fans is sure to be a hit for the duration of the Olympics.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games