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Tokyo 2020: after rocky start, preparations to be back on track


With the Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea over, Tokyo is stepping up preparations for the next event on the Olympic calendar, with busy building sites dotted around the Japanese capital. Unlike in previous Olympic host countries, where there was a scramble to finish venues on time, Japan appears to be living up to its reputation for efficiency. On a recent media tour of sites, foreman after foreman said “We are on schedule.” The Aquatics Centre in Tokyo Bay is a hive of activity, with workers scurrying around the huge site and pushing to finish a venue that will eventually welcome 24,000 cheering supporters. “Roughly 25 percent of the work is already done,” said Daishuu Tone, director of venues for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. “We are confident we will be on time,” he added, with the first test events scheduled for mid-2019.

Organizers are looking at coating pavements with a substance to reduce the surface temperature, and making sure there are plenty of trees to provide shade for competitors and spectators alike, Koike said. There are also worries over contamination in Odaiba Bay, where the triathlon and open-water swimming events will be held. Samples taken between July and September last year showed levels of E. coli bacteria more than 20 times higher than permitted — apparently brought about by unseasonably heavy rain. Muto said organizers would solve this problem using special “underwater filters” that have proven effective at cleaning water in tests.

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