The Venue for the Olympic triathlon and open water swimming competitions ‘smells like a toilet’, it was claimed on Wednesday.
Tokyo Bay was chosen for its ‘futuristic backdrop’ and backed by “international sporting organisations,” according to Tokyo 2020 organisers. But it has a long history of problems with water quality, smell, and the risk of sewage leaks into the bay.
In August 2019 the swim in the Paratriathlon World Cup was called off after E. coli bacteria were measured at twice the limit allowed by race organisers.
The Tokyo 2020 organising committee insists E. coli levels remain within the “agreed limits”. But one athlete said the venue “smelled like a toilet,” according to Japan’s Asahi newspaper.
Tokyo poured 22,200 cubic meters of sand into the bay to support water-cleaning organisms. A three-layer polyester screen was put in place to protect the bay from E. coli with storage tanks to hold waste water.
Yet the venue is plagued by bad smells and possible E. coli contamination. Tokyo lacks a drainage system specifically for its sewage, so the waste water of the city’s 30m residents feeds into seven rivers and the city’s smaller bodies of water.
This water is meant to be treated before it flows into the bay, but around 14 times a year, heavy rainfall sees it flow untreated. The triathlon begins on July 26, and there are expected to be heavy showers on July 27, which raises the risk of sewage in the water.
There are further triathlon races on July 27 and 31, plus the marathon swim on Aug 4-5. Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England said yesterday (Wed) that they were happy with the work which had been done to ensure the venue was ready.
He added: “The work that has been done on the Olympic course for both marathon swimming and triathlon has been absolutely exemplary in terms of the quality of the water as well as the cooling of the water. So we are very, very confident.
“Our athletes have been in that water for test events and training and in competition. We look forward to seeing the triathletes compete there next week.”
Justin Drew, Australian Triathlon team leader, said that their team will monitor the water quality two times a day. “Organisers have plans in place to address any issues surrounding the water in the build up to competition days,” he added.
Tokyo 2020 director of planning Koichi Yajima said that the water was safe for athletes.
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