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July 23, 2021

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Officials dismiss reports of stinky water at venue

Tokyo officials have pooh-poohed reports of a foul smell at an Olympic open-water venue, with Games organizers saying special filters will keep swimmers safe from sewage leaks.

Water quality at Tokyo Bay’s Odaiba Marine Park is a persistent concern since a 2019 paratriathlon event was cancelled due to high levels of E. coli bacteria.

But a local lawmaker refuted reports in Japanese and international media this week claiming that the marathon-swimming and triathlon venue “smelled like a toilet.”

“There’s no bad smell,” Shigeru Eonomoto said, adding he had gone to the waterfront to check. “But the water quality isn’t good when it rains because sewage water flows in,” acknowledged Eonomoto, who lives nearby and has been working on the water quality issue.

On a recent visit to the area, an AFP reporter could detect no perceptible pong, though passers-by are kept far away by fencing and patrolling police.

Tokyo 2020 organizers said triple-layer screens have been installed in the water to stop “the inflow of E. coli bacteria after rainfall” and help stabilise water temperatures.

There is rain in the forecast early next week, when the triathlon finals will take place.

But Australia’s triathlon team said it wasn’t worried as the water will be tested twice daily. “We are confident in the measures put in place... including the installation of a triple-filter screening system for this year, as opposed to a single filter used last year for the test event,” said team leader Justin Drew.


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