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Tokyo 2020 bans scandal-hit firms from bidding on Olympic projects

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee for the summer Olympic and Paralympic Games has moved to ban four companies involved in a corruption scandal from bidding on contracts for the events.

Speaking following a meeting of Tokyo 2020’s executive board today (Wednesday), chief executive Toshiro Muto said the companies would only be used for Olympic Games projects if organisers are facing difficulties in meeting delivery deadlines.

Taisei Corp., Kajima Corp., Obayashi Corp., and Shimizu Corp. are major contractors on existing Olympic projects, but on Friday were hit by charges from Tokyo prosecutors for allegedly colluding on bids for a high-speed train line.

“For the time being, we will refrain from offering (new) contracts to the four companies,” Muto (pictured) said, according to the Associated Press news agency. However, Muto conceded that they may still be needed to join tenders for future infrastructure projects, adding: “The deadlines cannot be moved.”

Meanwhile, Muto pledged to address ongoing concerns over water quality at the venue for marathon swimming and triathlon. In October, Tokyo 2020 conceded that testing of the water quality at Odaiba Marine Park showed levels of E. Coli up to 20 times above the accepted limit and faecal coliform bacteria seven times higher than agreed.

The subject of pollution at the open water venues was a major problem ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and has returned to the surface for Tokyo 2020. Local organisers blamed a near-record 21 straight days of rain in August, as tests carried out during 26 days between July and September showed water quality standards set by the International Federations were met on only 10 days for marathon swimming and just six days for triathlon.

Tokyo 2020 today said underwater screens will be experimented with this year. “We are going to put in place some special filtering screens in the water to shield any impurities,” Muto added. “We think that’s probably one of the effective measures we can take.”

In other news, the Kyodo News agency has said Tokyo 2020 will be the first Olympic Games to use facial recognition technology. Citing Tokyo 2020 security plan guidelines, Kyodo said athletes and Games staff will be issued identification cards containing IC chips which will allow facial recognition technology to automatically verify the identity of those entering the venues.

As well as a security measure, the initiative is being looked on as a means to aid the flow of movement between venues, but will not be used on spectators.