Tokyo: Tokyo officials and residents have pooh-poohed reports of a foul smell at an Olympic open-water venue, with Games organisers saying special filters will keep swimmers safe from sewage leaks.
Water quality at Tokyo Bay's Odaiba Marine Park is a persistent concern since a 2019 para triathlon event was cancelled due to high levels of E coli bacteria.
But a local lawmaker refuted reports in Japanese and international media this week claiming that the marathon-swimming and triathlon venue "smelled like a toilet".
"There's no bad smell," Shigeru Eonomoto told AFP, saying he had gone to the waterfront to check.
"But the water quality isn't good when it rains because sewage water flows in," acknowledged Eonomoto, who lives nearby and has been working on the water quality issue.
On a recent visit to the area, an AFP reporter could detect no perceptible pong, though passers-by are kept far away by fencing and patrolling police.
Tokyo 2020 organisers said triple-layer screens have been installed in the water to stop "the inflow of E. coli bacteria after rainfall" and help stabilise water temperatures.
There is rain in the forecast early next week, when the triathlon finals will take place.
But Australia's triathlon team said they weren't worried as the water will be tested twice daily.
"We are confident in the measures put in place... including the installation of a triple-filter screening system for this year, as opposed to a single filter used last year for the test event," said team leader Justin Drew.
In Odaiba, residents denied any malodorous miasma, but said they did have concerns about water quality.
"I haven't seen the bay lately because it's surrounded by fencing for the Olympics, but the water was not really clean before," said 35-year-old Ayako Kinoshita.
Another resident in her 40s, who declined to be named, said the area could become whiffy if hot weather followed a downpour.
"I have two children and I don't let them play in the water," she said.
Takashi Murakami, an 82-year-old pensioner, said he hadn't been aware of recent reports describing the area as "Stinky Bay".
"When I walked on the bayside before the fencing was put up, I didn't smell anything strong," he told AFP.
"Maybe I am used to it."