olympics

Tokyo 2020 paratriathlon test shortened due to bad water quality

31 Comments
By Charly Triballeau

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This came up as a problem for this location a long time ago. Now that we are getting closer and there are still having the same problems, maybe need a new location.

I know its only a year to go, but if people start to take action now another location is not too far away. They hold a World Triathlon event in Yokohama each year which also include the Paratriathlon event. Must be worth a look at? Better to have the chance for a successful competition than this embarrassment again.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The Tokyo olympics look set to be a farce, with the weather being completely unsuitable for athletic events. The event should be postponed until October on the grounds of safety, but the corrupt IOC will put profits ahead of common sense, even if it costs lives.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Why werent these Olympics scheduled later in the year?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Well I have waded in the water near Odaiba but wouldn't want to put my face in it. Why not move the event to beaches on the other side of Chiba?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Why werent these Olympics scheduled later in the year?

Because at other times of the year there are other (mainly American) sporting events that would take viewers away from the circus, and therefore the broadcasters wouldn't pay as much for the rights (NBC alone paid almost $8 billion for the olympics until 2032). Therefore the IOC insist that the Olympics be held between July 15-Aug 31.

As in FIFA's choice of Qatar, it's simply money trumping sense.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

"It was the most recent disappointment at a test event for Tokyo 2020 organizers"

That is what test events are for. To find and fix problems. By this time next year it will be perfect, because of early failures.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

The Tokyo Olympics is set to become Abe's crowning glory. As a sort of symbol for his turning his country's economy around with Abenomics! (sarcasm)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Just change the place. There are other proper places in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Disaster Olympics as all the preparations have confirmed every trail even a half trial has been a disaster. Abes crowning glory will be a road littered with dead athletes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Move the venue.

If Fukushima can supposedly host Olympic events, then triathlon can surely move to somewhere else?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Therefore the IOC insist that the Olympics be held between July 15-Aug 31.

JOC strongly proposed the month of October because October is much nicer and cooler days. 1964 Tokyo Olympics was held in October. However October and September were rejected finally. If athletes died of heatstroke or bacteria in water during games, JOC and IOC would be blamed about it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Odaiba is the craziest place to hold any swimming event.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"It is regrettable..."

no, it is obvious, and entirely avoidable. Should have taken a page from history and put the games in October just like the '64 games

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Duh?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That is what test events are for. To find and fix problems. 

No, test events are for logistical and staffing issues, to practice setups and organization. Not basic chemistry.

Basic chemistry doesn't involve throwing athletes in the water and going "So, how's it feel? Filthy? Getting any sewage-like smells? Anyone broke out in a fungal rash yet?"

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Having both a summer and winter games is no longer going to be viable on a climate changing earth. Ironically October for a single unified games with only compatible sports remaining will likely be possible

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Tokyo 2020 paratriathlon test shortened due to bad water quality

As will be any athlete's lifespan after they swim there.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The location choice was the mistake made. It isn't like there wasn't decades of water samples pointing at the issue.

Test events should only have minor, tweaking, issues, not "you can't have it here" problems.

They'll need to pick a new location and schedule another "test event" in spring of 2020 to ensure issues remaining are solved.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"Bad water" is putting it mildly. Some people were commenting it actually smelled like a toilet...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I couldn't help but to chuckle at the choice of Odaiba for a swimming event to begin with. For any kind, indulgent readers, please permit me to explain.

Getting a kogata sempaku (small boat operator's license) in Japan is actually easier than getting a car driver's license, and if you can speak just a little Japanese, you can get the textbooks (if not the lecture), and take the class in English. Like many license granting tests in Japan, while many of the instructors are quite good, an old salt knows that when it comes to the sea, experience is the best, maybe 'only', teacher — so what you are paying for is mostly access to a copy of the previous year's exam and answers, which as 'tradition' dictates in a bureaucratically bound society, will most likely be the same as the previous year's test.

Being a fishing-otaku, I took my undergrad in Marine Biology from the states (UNC-W), as mostly a lame excuse to head offshore for high times on the high seas. And so soon after arriving to Japan some 36 years ago, I took the course for what was at that time a 1st class license (out of 4) permitting me to captain a boat of up to 20 tons. Now it is much easier and there are only 2 designations for the license ... partially catering to the jet-ski market.

There were only three in my class at the time, all about my age, a German multilingual translator running his own company, myself, and another English speaking guy running his own chain of English schools ... whose daughter many readers will of heard of, TV talent 'Becky'.

And so, before getting married, which would likely rule buying a boat out of the question (pick one or the other), I began an often one-sided love affair with a series of 7 or 8 ocean ocean-going boats. The reader will be surprised to learn that the 2nd hand boat market, though smaller than the bubble era, can turn up some beauties for little more than the price of a car. I don't regret the lifestyle choice, and have dozens of hilarious, and sometimes scary stories from the high seas off the coat of Japan. But boats can be a cruel mistress — as they say, 'a hole in the water through which you pour money'. I never did get married.

During one of my sea-faring flings, I kept a twin engine, diesel powered, 30 foot Yanmar cruiser on the Kyu-Edogawa, just up the river from Tokyo Disneyland. It wasn't one of my better fishing boats, but to be fair, it was made to party : having twin piloting stations, one inside the salon which had a small dining area seating a half dozen or more, a smaller kitchen complete with fridge and microwave, and a small head (private restroom), and a comfy, plush and private double wide bedroom in the front for overnighters ... the other station being driven atop a flybridge from which the captain and a few guests could enjoy a panoramic view of the Tokyo skyline, which was an especially gorgeous pallet of neon, stretched across the privacy of the jet black waters of Tokyo Bay at night.

I sometimes used to take guests for an early evening cruise down the river, and drop anchor in front of the small channel at Kasai Rinkai Koen, pop the wine corks and watch the nightly fireworks at Disneyland, not more than a few hundred meters away. On longer trips, the other boat owners and I would take 3 or 4 day cruises down to Atami, or the Izu Islands, mostly Oshima, but occasionally as far as Miyakejima, and do a little fishing, and a lot of drinking and partying.

But the most often chosen option in my Jack Sparrow days, was to load up with guests, and take a night cruise to Odaiba, drop anchor, turn on the jazz (Salena Jones 'Night Moods' was a favorite), pop the wine corks, chat and gaze at the beauty of it all ... the brightly lit Odaiba shoreline, Rainbow Bridge, and Tokyo at night, from the privacy of our own room-and-balcony-on-the-sea.

As in the photo above, the yakate-bune would cruise in and do likewise, occasionally crowded enough so that when the winds picked up, we and the yakate-bune often had to give our 'gomen nasais', raise anchor, gun the engines, and idle over to a less intrusive part of Odaiba to keep from bumping into each other or getting anchor ropes entangled. And this would go on until the yakate-bune returned to their docks, while we stayed on til the wee hours, enjoying it all to ourselves.

But there's a nasty little secret to those yakate-bune, then, if not now.

Like my cruiser, they had toilets. But unlike private cruisers, there was no holding tank for the waste, Like a lot of traditional Japanese fishing boats that ply those same waters in the daytime, it was just a tiny, enclosed shack near the back of the boat, and when you lifted the toilet lid, there was Tokyo Bay, staring back at you ... even less environmentally regulated than Thailand at the time.

I can think of three reasons Odaiba was popular for boaters: one being the previously mentioned night view, and another being easy access to the small day-time tsuri-bune ... traditional charter fishing boats (or 'headboats' as we called them on the East coast of the states), captained by professionals catering to the occasional hobby fishermen and/or their families.

But the third reason was most problematic. It is easy to drop anchor there, even in large numbers, because the enclosed shape of Odaiba's bay allowed for very little current, even with the rise and fall of the tides. And why is this a 'problem' one might reasonably ask?

Well, remember those toilets I described on the traditional boats ... the ones with just an enclosed hole over the water ... the water that has very little current? Well, the fishing is great there. Those little 'haze' are plump and juicy, with a sxxt-eating grin, just filled with all kinds of nutrients, but I wouldn't want to eat 'em. And I imagine the windsurfers or swimmers who touch down and actually walk in those waters will feel a nice, squishy texture of unique 'mud' between their toes.

And hence my own special name for the waters of a favorite play-spot ... Odaiben ... still good for a chuckle or two for those in the know.

But dang, who would've thought that place as a venue for an Olympic swimming event? My guess is just to follow your nose ... uh ... the money.

Cheers all, but swimmers beware. And if that fried haze and beer tastes especially good this summer, just chalk it up to that Lion King, 'Circle of Life' thingy. ;-)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Aggh ... those 'Apocalypse Now' - Typos.

The horror. The horror.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Steve Martin: great post! You should write an article or book about this aspect of Japan which I never knew. I have surfed at Shonan and Chiba near Taito and Onjuku beaches. The water is very clear over in Chiba and even Shonan beaches can have a smell. I suggest they let those poor swimmers go on over to Chiba beaches.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Steve nice work fella, great read! The JOC should have had a word with you before choosing a place with such 'unique mud'!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Thanks for the kudos Reckless.

The first time I went swimming at Kamakura, I had to gingerly breast stroke through all the plastic and refuse in the water ... until I just couldn't bear it anymore.

It appears the Enoshima-Fujisawa area will be a venue for yachting, but I don't think I'd like to practice the man-overboard drill there. ;-)

About that book, get in touch with me at Quora under my name 'Steven Martin 2' ... maybe make a collaborative effort out of it. Great excuse for a beer over tales of the high seas of Japan.

Cheers!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder where that part of the swimming event will be held?

Can't think of any natural waters near Tokyo I would choose. Like Reckless suggested, the Chiba coast might be the closest, or perhaps the Izu peninsula, from Atami south. But that begs the question of whether it will be a 'Tokyo' Olympics.

My modest suggestion, both to beef up the tourist industry for post-Olympic Japan, and to solve the immediate problem, is to use Izu Oshima. It's only a couple of hours by jet foil (Tokai Kissen) from the port near Hammamatsu station, it is the site of a yearly biking race and a marathon, the waters are clean, and the islanders could sure use the business. The less populated Habu no Minato at the southern end is my favorite spot, a snug protected harbor, with regular busses to the more populated Motomachi where the ferry runs. And Oshima (all the way down to Ogasawara) is officially under the jurisdiction of Tokyo City.

Hey organizers ... anyone out there reading this?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bertie,

'The Tokyo Olympics is set to become Abe's crowning glory. As a sort of symbol for his turning his country's economy around with Abenomics! (sarcasm).'

Oh,that is why Tokyo Bay is full of faeces.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Steve Martin,

Awesome post.

Had a blast reading that.

Sounds like you have had a lot of fun on the water around Tokyo.

Top marks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Tokyo Olympics is set to become Abe's crowning glory. As a sort of symbol for his turning his country's economy around with Abenomics! (sarcasm)

The push for Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics came from Ishihara Shintaro, not Abe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The push for Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics came from Ishihara Shintaro, not Abe.

That was one nasty man.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The JOC wanted to change the venue, but the IOC wanted Tokyo Bay.

The reason is that the scenery is typical of Tokyo. because the rainbow bridge

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Steve Martin,

Awesome post.

Had a blast reading that.

Sounds like you have had a lot of fun on the water around Tokyo.

Top marks.

Much thanks for the kudos Spitfire!

Yeah, had some good times ... and though the same kind of income to keep that up is no longer coming in, a new generation of water sports is now going full swing in Japan — including Odaiba.

SUPs (Stand Up Paddle boards), are increasingly using a high pressure air pump (up to 15psi) for inflatables rigid enough to stand on and even carry a cooler of beer ... uh ... 'fish', and that same technology is making its way into inflatable boats, kayaks, and canoes small enough to stash in a car. I keep a 16 foot Sea Eagle kayak in the back of my van — portable, big enough to carry 3 or 4 without the need for a motor, and small enough to make even glass flat ocean waters feel like 'high' seas, especially at night ... AND leave a much smaller carbon footprint.

The slightly less portable, car-top, plastic fishing versions are making a big splash on YouTube with some of these back-pocket, one-man 'cruisers' latching on to marlin, sharks, or goliath grouper many times the weight of the entire boat-person-fishing rig.

The competitive Olympic kayaking versions are made of much more expensive carbon / exotic composites, but like NASA, a lot of that tech is filtering down to the boating market — so who knows? There may be a little life left in the wake of post Tokyo Olympics.

It is a bit ironic though ... the Olympic kayaking venue will be held in much cleaner water than the swimming part of the paratriathalon. ;-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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