Concerns raised for 2020 open water venue

Laine Clark

Swimming Australia believe a "Plan B" should be considered for the Tokyo Olympics open water venue due to heat concerns that have already forced the relocation of the 2020 Games' marathon and race walks.

But SA high performance chief Alex Baumann is confident measures will be in place to ensure athletes' safety at the scheduled Olympic distance swimming site at Tokyo Bay, Odaiba Marine Park.

The International Olympic Committee in October announced they would move the marathon and race walks to the northern Japanese city of Sapporo to avoid the worst of Tokyo's summer heat.

Now United States officials have led calls for the IOC to do the same for open water swimming due to concerns shared by SA at the venue.

Odaiba Marine Park has recorded water temperatures over the summer hovering around 29 degrees Celsius and as high as 30.5.

World swimming body FINA rules state they can cancel or shorten open water races if temperatures surpass 31 degrees.

Odaiba Marine Park also has water quality issues with E coli bacteria levels recorded at the venue and problems with transparency.

Baumann said SA had raised concerns with organisers about the venue.

"I do think that there should be a plan B just in case," he told AAP.

"We have raised some concerns. Obviously the health of our athletes is paramount.

"But we are confident that the organising committee and the IOC are fully aware of those concerns and are addressing them."

Baumann said it wasn't the first time an Olympic open water venue had presented challenges.

"There is no doubt the (water) temperature is going to be hot (at Tokyo)," he said.

"Dealing with 30 degrees is difficult but we have strategies in place.

"Olympic marathon swimming courses held at major metropolitan centres present unique challenges.

"But we are confident organisers and the IOC are doing everything that they can to ensure the environment is appropriate for our athletes to perform."

US Olympic open water coach Catherine Kase was not so sure.

"Here's the reality. If a marathoner faints or passes out, they may get a few bumps and bruises," she told Associated Press.

"If the same thing happens to an open water swimmer, the result could be lethal.

"For all open water swims alternative plans should be made in case environmental factors make the swim unsafe forcing it to be cancelled or curtailed.

"We would like to push for a viable back-up plan. The straightforward answer is that we are not comfortable with the Odaiba venue."