Tokyo 2020 Paralympic test swim canceled over E. coli levels | News | DW | 17.08.2019
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Tokyo 2020 Paralympic test swim canceled over E. coli levels

High E. coli levels have forced organizers to scrap the swimming portion of a test paratriathlon event for the Tokyo Paralympics. Concerns are mounting that high temperatures could threaten events at next year's Games.

The swimming portion of a triathlon test event for the Tokyo Paralympics was cancelled on Saturday due to high levels of E. coli bacteria.

The International Triathlon Union said water quality tests at Odaiba Marine Park, the venue in Tokyo Bay for the triathlon at the 2020 Toyko Olympic and Paralympic games, found E. coli levels to be "more than two times over the ITU limits." Instead, the 70 paratriathletes competed in a duathlon with two runs and a bike race.

"I'm so sorry for athletes that we could not prepare the competition conditions effectively," Shinchiro Otsuka, the managing director of Japan's Triathlon Union, told reporters.

The venue had been a concern for organizers, who have experimented with different methods to clean the water. The ITU is scheduled to hold its final test event on Sunday "depending on the latest water quality tests."

E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is bacteria that normally live in the intestines of animals and people. It can produce intestinal pain, diarrhea and fever.

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Another setback

It is the second setback in less than a week for triathlon organizers for next year's Olympics and Paralympics. An Olympic triathlon running event on Thursday was shortened from 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) because of what the International Triathlon Union called "extreme levels" of heat.

Tokyo's hot and humid summers worry Olympic organizers. Soaring temperatures have killed dozens of people across Japan since late July. Next year's Olympics are scheduled to take place between July 24 and August 9, followed by the Paralympics from August 25 to September 6.

Other test events in recent weeks have also had a fair share of problems. Swimmers participating in a marathon test event last weekend complained of smelly water and high water temperature at Odaiba Marine Park. Around a dozen competitors and spectators also fell ill at a rowing test event, also due to high temperatures.

Organizers of the Rio Olympics in 2016 had to scramble after an outdoor pool turned an unflattering shade of green overnight.

dv/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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