Tokyo bay
AP

Tokyo to ‘screen off’ bacteria for Olympic swimming in bay

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TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers said Friday that a system of layered screens would be used to keep bacteria levels within “agreed limits” for triathlon and marathon swimming in heavily trafficked Tokyo Bay.

Organizers acknowledged a year ago that levels of E. Coli were up to 20 times above acceptable levels set by international sports federations, and fecal coliform bacteria were seven times over the limit.

Hidemasa Nakamura, executive director of sports and games delivery, said a triple-layer screen of polyester fiber was tested in July and August on dates corresponding to the Olympics and Paralympics in two years.

“The triple-layer screen was proven effective in controlling E. coli bacteria and other bacteria,” Nakamura said through an interpreter.

He said the international federations that govern marathon swimming and triathlon had seen the test results.

“They agreed the test results were quite favorable,” Nakamura said.

Plans would seem to call for the screens to encircle the area for marathon swimming and triathlon.

The Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 were plagued with severe water pollution, from rowing events to open-water swimming to sailing.

Tokyo’s challenge for the 2020 Games seems smaller. But a core problem in both places stems from holding outdoor water events in the heart of the city rather in cleaner waters away from the urban area.

In Rio de Janeiro, television rights holders pushed for sailing to be held in heavily polluted Guanabara Bay, partly because of the picturesque backdrop and appealing camera angles.

Nakamura said something similar in explaining why the Odaiba Marine Park, in the heart of Tokyo Bay, was chosen.

“I think it’s very important for us to hold this event in the middle of Tokyo with the ocean water and the skyscrapers and the urban background of Tokyo,” Nakamura said. “That will show how Tokyo is a city where we have the modern structures and well as the ocean.”

The Odaiba Marine Park sits at the foot of Tokyo’s famous Rainbow Bridge. A half dozen signs around the small beach say “No Swimming” allowed. On a recent day, one small child was wading in shallow water, but no one else ventured into the sea along the 200-meter (yard) stretch of beach.

However, over the summer the public was allowed to swim for about a week under a program called “Odaiba Plage” — a takeoff on Paris. The park for decades has held many national open-water swimming competitions.

Nakamura said the no-swimming signs were there because life guards are not on duty, and not because of water pollution.

“Some kind of underwater screens would be used during the Olympics and Paralympics,” he said, noting the exact configurations could change as the city and organizers experimented.

Dangerous water-borne viruses were a large concern in Rio, but Tokyo organizers indicated that sports federations seemed concerned only with monitoring bacteria.

Nakamura and an official from the Tokyo city government said they were confident the screens would keep athletes healthy.

Some rowers and sailors got ill in Rio, but it was often difficult to link the dirty water to the outbreaks. Local sailors seemed to build up immunity to the dirty water.

“We will continue to work with the IOC and the international federations on this point,” Nakamura said. “We will continue to work to ensure the safety of the athletes against bacteria.”

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David Rudisha escapes car crash ‘well and unhurt’

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David Rudisha, a two-time Olympic champion and world record holder at 800m, is “well and unhurt” after a car accident in his native Kenya, according to his Facebook account.

Kenyan media reported that one of Rudisha’s tires burst on Saturday night, leading his car to collide with a bus, and he was treated for minor injuries at a hospital.

Rudisha, 30, last raced July 4, 2017, missing extended time with a quad muscle strain and back problems. His manager said last week that Rudisha will miss next month’s world championships.

Rudisha owns the three fastest times in history, including the world record 1:40.91 set in an epic 2012 Olympic final.

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Tokyo Paralympic medals unveiled with historic Braille design, indentations

Tokyo Paralympic Medals
Tokyo 2020
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The Tokyo Paralympic medals, which like the Olympic medals are created in part with metals from recycled cell phones and other small electronics, were unveiled on Sunday, one year out from the Opening Ceremony.

In a first for the Paralympics, each medal has one to three indentation(s) on its side to distinguish its color by touch — one for gold, two silver and three for bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on each medal’s face.

For Rio, different amounts of tiny steel balls were put inside the medals based on their color, so that when shaken they would make distinct sounds. Visually impaired athletes could shake the medals next to their ears to determine the color.

More on the design from Tokyo 2020:

The design is centered around the motif of a traditional Japanese fan, depicting the Paralympic Games as the source of a fresh new wind refreshing the world as well as a shared experience connecting diverse hearts and minds. The kaname, or pivot point, holds all parts of the fan together; here it represents Para athletes bringing people together regardless of nationality or ethnicity. Motifs on the leaves of the fan depict the vitality of people’s hearts and symbolize Japan’s captivating and life-giving natural environment in the form of rocks, flowers, wood, leaves, and water. These are applied with a variety of techniques, producing a textured surface that makes the medals compelling to touch.

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Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Tokyo Paralympic Medals