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The Tokyo Olympics has a new plague to worry about ...

And — unlike COVID-19 — no one planned for this plague

Oyster are collected in a crate.
Oyster are collected in a crate, Sunday, April 25, 2021, in Brunswick, Maine. Oysters near Tokyo have impacted the rowing venue for the upcoming 2020 Olympics.
Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press

Tokyo had no idea what it signed up for when it agreed to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

If the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough, Olympic officials have found themselves dealing with another unexpected plague — an oyster plague, reported BBC.

Yes, oysters. Thousands of the shellfish invaded a key venue for rowing and canoeing events in Tokyo Bay, damaging necessary equipment and requiring planners to spend months preparing the venue for competition — again, reported Newser.

What’s going on with all the oysters?

The Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay, the venue hosting the Olympic rowing and canoeing events, was ready months ahead of schedule. Officials had lined the 3.4-mile course with large floats to allow competitors to race without being affected by large waves, reported The Independent.

  • But then officials noticed the floats sinking.

When officials began investigating, they found an oyster invasion. Thousands of shellfish had attached themselves to the floats, per The Independent. There were so many oysters that their weight had begun to sink the floats.

  • To get the oyster plague under control, the floats had to be dragged ashore and repaired or cleaned underwater by teams of divers, per BBC.

Officials removed more than 15.5 tons of oysters in a cleanup operation that lasted almost nine months, reported Newser. The operation cost almost $1.3 million — and it could happen again.

But these weren’t just any oysters. They were magaki oysters, a Japanese delicacy popular during the winter. The removed oysters could have sold for tens of thousands of dollars, reported BBC. But officials did not consider selling the edible invaders.

Why were there so many oysters in Tokyo Bay?

The waters in Tokyo Bay have a high salinity that made the area a fertile spot for oysters, reported The Independent. However, the natural conditions have left officials struggling to find a way to maintain the canoeing and rowing course without paying to clean up oyster invasions on a regular basis.

How does this affect the Olympics?

Officials have fully contained the oyster plague. The necessary floats are floating once again and Olympic events will be able to continue unaffected, reported BBC.