Why are hockey pitches wet? Reason blue Tokyo 2020 Olympics playing surfaces are watered

Following the start of Team GB’s participation in the Olympics hockey, viewers are wondering why the pitches are wet.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Jan Christopher Ruhr of Team Germany competes for the ball Zachary Wallace of Team Great Britain during the Men's Preliminary Pool B match between Great Britain and Germany on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Oi Hockey Stadium on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

The Tokyo Olympics hockey tournament is well underway for Team GB, with the mens team enjoying wins over South Africa and Canada, whilst the women beat South Africa 4-1 yesterday.

All hockey in the Tokyo games will take place across two main pitches at the Oi Hockey Stadium, in the waterfront area of Tokyo Bay. The 15,000 capacity stadium is located inside the Oi Central Seaside Park Sports Forest.

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The mens and womens’ teams have received plenty of support from back home as Great Britain residents cheer on Team GB from their sofas – but viewers may have been questioning why the hockey pitches are wet.

Why is the Olympic hockey pitch wet?

The playing surface of the hockey pitch is artificial and needs to be kept in top condition, so ground staff will spray the pitch with water cannons before every match - and sometimes during half-time breaks depending on the weather.

Like all elite level pitches, the hockey pitch at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is water-based, as opposed to a sand-based surface. This helps prevent friction burn and other injuries – which is common with a sand-based surface – and also means the ball will roll faster and straighter than other types of artificial pitch.

In order for this type of pitch to be used to full effect, the layer of water in the artificial grass needs to be constantly re-filled. The water cannon used will then allow the bull to run faster and helps make the surface more springy.

Questions have been raised about the environmental impact of this method, however. Does it make sense to get rid of grass to then create a surface that actually requires MORE watering?

However, the Tokyo games are the first of a kind using regorwable raw materials thanks to Games official adhering to carbon-neutral targets and the FIH’s sustainable hockey commitments.

The surfaces are 60 per cent surgar cane – which means that only one-third of the water required for previous Olympic pitches will be required in Tokyo. The Poligras material used is said to make the water sit for longer and reduces the amount needed to maintain the pitch.