Tokyo Olympics plan hits roadblock over fish market's relocation

Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:32pm EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics on its reputation for efficiency, but a string of blunders has now been compounded by the city's new governor halting relocation of the world's largest fish market, jeopardizing a road needed for the Summer Games.

Unless the road linking the Olympic village to the yet-to-be-built National Stadium is constructed in time, Tokyo could run the risk of athletes and spectators alike being stuck in traffic around the key venues.

Last month, Governor Yuriko Koike ordered a delay in moving Tsukiji market, a popular tourist destination, because of concerns about the cleanup of toxic pollution, including unsafe levels of cancer-causing benzene, at its proposed new home.

"This place is old, and everyone would like something new," 66-year-old tuna wholesaler Shonosuke Ishii told Reuters. "But given the benzene and other things, that site isn't good for a place handling food. People worried about contamination won't buy fish."

The controversy over the plan is at least the third major embarrassment faced by the 2020 organizers.

"This could be a great chance for Japan to show off its skills and technology, but all this talk of problems is pathetic," said Hitoshi Sakai, who heads a private Tokyo think tank and worked on Tokyo's failed 2016 Olympics bid.

Tokyo was forced to scrap the first stadium design because it was too expensive. And they had to redesign the games logo after being hit by accusations of plagiarism.

Two of the city's governors also have resigned over money scandals since Tokyo won rights in 2013 to host the 2020 Olympics, promoting itself as a "safe pair of hands".   Continued...

A worker is seen at the new Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, known as Toyosu market, which will take over from the famous Tsukiji market, under construction in the Toyosu district in Tokyo, Japan, September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai