Asbestos Found at Olympic Water Polo Site

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Asbestos has been found at the water polo site for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan.

The unhealthy material is on a pillar supporting the roof of the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, according to Kyodo News.

The asbestos was discovered during a 2017 inspection, prior to renovating the building in preparation for the Olympics. The Tokyo metropolitan government determined that protective measures weren’t required at the time, as there wasn’t a large amount of asbestos, it was in stable condition and in an area that is usually inaccessible to the public.

On Monday, after a recent review of the area, officials announced plans to take immediate actions to implement asbestos containment measures. The swimming center, which opened in 1993, is scheduled to become an ice-skating rink after the Olympics.

Asbestos was regularly used in fireproofing and insulation until the 1970s, when it was discovered that inhaling the fibers can lead to health issues, including cancer.

Final preparations are underway for the Olympics, which will run from July 24 through Aug. 9. Japan’s National Stadium, the centerpiece for the games, was completed this month.

Asbestos isn’t the first health issue surrounding the 2020 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee announced in October that the marathon and race walk events were moved from Tokyo to Sapporo to avoid high temperatures. Start times of several events have also been moved to avoid the heat of the day, while the Associated Press has reported that a number of swimmers and coaches have asked to move the open-water swimming events out of Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay due to high water temperatures, E. coli levels and bad odors.

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