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Tokyo Olympic Stadium hosts final sporting event

May 25, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

Tokyo Stadium AP

The 1964 Olympic Stadium held its final sporting event Sunday before it’s to be demolished in July, making way for a larger stadium for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

Japan beat Hong Kong 49-8 to qualify for its eighth straight Rugby World Cup in the final event in Tokyo’s 54,000-seat stadium that opened in 1958.

The Olympic Stadium was the stage for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and iconic track and field moments of the 1964 Games, including Bob Hayes winning the 100m eight years before he would win a Super Bowl as a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila completed his second straight Olympic marathon triumph inside the stadium, becoming the first man to win consecutive titles.

Later, in 1991, Carl Lewis and Mike Powell held one of the greatest head-to-head duels in track and field history at the World Championships in Tokyo, both breaking Bob Beamon‘s 23-year-old world record in the long jump.

Powell, who won Olympic silver behind Lewis twice, bettered his rival with a leap of 8.95 meters, a record that still stands.

The new 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, with a retractable roof work, is set to begin construction in October 2015. It’s plans have faced criticism after Tokyo won the vote to host the 2020 Olympics in September.

In response, builders agreed to downsize it in November by 25 percent, to 220,000 square meters, but not affecting the seating capacity. That cut the construction cost from $3 billion to reportedly between $1.3 billion and $1.8 billion, still more than initial estimates.

Other Japanese architects have been leading the uproar over the new stadium, so much so that they started a petition to keep the old stadium.

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