Tokyo 2020 Organizers tested the bacteria levels at the planned open water venues for the 2020 Olympics and found levels of E. Coli up to 20 times above the accepted limit and fecal coliform bacteria seven times higher than agreed.
Organizers have vowed to improve the water quality to ensure the safety of the athletes competing at the Odaiba Marine Park in less than three years. They will install underwater screens to limit the amount of fecal coliform bacteria flowing from offshore during rainy periods.
Tokyo 2020 officials believe the high amounts of bacteria in the water is the result of the 21 straight days of rain in August that the area had. The three straight weeks of rain is uncommon and officials expressed confidence they could control the situation.
“We will take the best possible measures to make sure that the venue satisfies all relevant standards of international federations and that athletes can perform at their best feeling very safe,” Koji Murofushi, Tokyo 2020 sports director, told a news conference.
Using underwater screens has worked in the past in regards to reducing fecal coliforms, although the screens were not tested for effectiveness against other bacteria. The screens were used as an experiment from 2010-2012 in Tokyo.
“The experiment was completed in three years and based upon those results the TMG is considering what measures to take,” said Kazuyuki Suzuki, a senior 2020 Games division director at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, when asked why the screens had not been used for the past five years.
Tokyo officials also said they were working to increase the storage capacity of a Tokyo Bay sewage treatment facility.
FINA released a press release regarding the situation stating:
“As the world governing body for Aquatic sports, FINA will keep working closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan government and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to ensure the best available venue and environment for the marathon swimming events in 2020.”
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