Oysters Invade the Tokyo Olympics’ Sea Forest Waterway Rowing Venue

Last Updated on July 28, 2021 by admin

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are bound to go down in history in more ways than one, not least among which is the fact that the games are starting an entire year after they were originally scheduled.

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But while no one is blaming the Olympic Committee or the Tokyo organizers for the delay during the era of COVID-19, the hits just keep on coming for the beleaguered games.

Now the Olympic rowing and canoeing events face complications beyond the novel coronavirus and which include Mother Nature herself.

The beautiful venue for this year’s Olympic Rowing events, the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, is under attack from an invasive species that threatens to derail the rowing events before they even get started. Measuring some 6 meters deep, 193 meters wide, and 2335 meters long, the Tokyo Bay-situated Sea Forest Waterway was specifically constructed for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games.

Equipped with 8 lanes measuring 12.5 meters wide, the waterway incorporates the latest in technology and design sophistication but, apparently, even that wasn’t enough to prevent nature from taking its course. 

The Post reports that some 31,000 pounds of oysters invaded the Sea Forest where officials already spent over $1 million to bring the facilities up to grade. How were the oysters discovered? Officials began to notice that equipment in the waterway was sinking. After an investigation, they found that oysters were infiltrating the waterway.

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The Tokyo Olympic organizers then hired divers to go through and clean out the oysters by hand – a painstaking process by any stretch of the imagination – but some pieces were so laden that they had to be taken out of the water and replaced with fresh equipment.

A couple of pieces were used to prevent waves from disrupting the races. The fact that they had sunk down into the water due to the oysters meant that they would be less effective at preventing this kind of turbulence from disturbing the racing lanes.

The International Canoe Federation described the process organizers undertake to make sure the racing venues are in peak condition for the games which includes checking equipment as well as the water itself for bacterial levels and quality.

As for the oysters themselves, the so-called Magaki oysters are popular in Japan, particularly with chefs. Even so, food-grade oysters have to undergo an array of tests to make sure that they are safe for human consumption – something that will not happen in this case. Another challenge with the Magaki oysters found in the Sea Forest Waterway is that their environment has made them less than ideal for human consumption.

To start, oysters that grow on the surface of objects tend to have more irregular shapes and are harder to open.

Rowing events will take place between 23 and 30 July 2021 with 526 athletes chasing 14 medals.

Canoe slalom events are scheduled between 25 to 30 July 2021 and canoe sprint events follow afterward between 2 to 7 August. Slalom events will take place at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Course while sprint events will be held in the Tokyo Bay waterway.

 

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