It turns out COVID-19 wasn't the only foe Olympic organizers were battling in 2020. Add oysters to the list. The BBC reports the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay will host canoeing and rowing events, and the preparation for those events involved the installation of floats designed to prevent waves from pummeling the athletes; the Kyodo News reports they cut the crests by 70%, creating an appropriately smooth surface. ("The running of the race must not be influenced by natural or artificial waves," per the World Rowing rule book.) But then those floats started sinking, with two-thirds of them below the surface by December 2019. An influx of magaki oysters that clung to them was identified as the cause.
The fix involved repairing and cleaning equipment that covered 3.4 miles (some of it had to be brought ashore) between that December and September 2020, reports the Asahi Shimbun. Nearly 15.5 tons of oysters were removed at a cost of $1.3 million. All should be well for the Games, but Tokyo is looking beyond them. The idea was that the event sites would be put to use in the years following the Games, but the Sea Forest Waterway—the sole international standard rowing course in all of Japan—has been allotted a budget of just $1.5 million annually. The government is investigating whether it could electrolyze the seawater in order to prevent their future growth there. (Read more 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)