Friday, February 22, 2008

Japan pooh-poohs China's Olympic crappers

japanese toilet by ~Ookami16

Japanese are rightfully proud of their toilet engineering feats, and Shukan Asahi (2/29) takes a high-handed approach to dump on neighboring China about the standard of its restrooms at facilities to be used in this summer's Beijing Olympic Games.

While Beijing has been widely blessed for the excellence of its newly opened National Swimming Center, where the Games' aquatic events will be held, not everything about the stadium is as world-class as its pools.

Nearly every toilet in the center is a squat style, not the sit-down type of loo most Westerners -- and Japanese -- are accustomed to.

Squat toilets are the dominant style nearly everywhere throughout China. And though individual cubicles have become the norm on trains and public toilets in smaller cities, doors on the cubicles are still a rarity.

"There are growing numbers of Western-style toilets in southern China," a Shanghai-born Olympic facility worker tells Shukan Asahi. "I guess squat-style toilets are still the norm up north."

Toilet paper is also posing a problem. Outside of classy hotels in the big cities, most toilet paper used in China is a rough, harsh type that doesn't dissolve well in water, the weekly says. To avoid blockage, it's more common to dump the dirty paper into a trash can instead of the cistern. And though most Chinese are well aware of this practice, there are no notices anywhere informing visitors to the country of the proper way to prime the potty, running the risk of clogging the crapper. It's a point the Games' organizers concede.

"We have to put up signs," an organizer says.

Some Japanese have already noticed the poor toilet situation facing those attending -- and taking part in -- the biggest sporting event on earth. Eiichi Kawaniwa, honorary vice-chairman of the International Tennis Federation, has already blasted the crap out of organizers over the toilet situation.

"If you've built a world-class tennis center, it should have Western-style toilets," he told the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee while asking for improvements at the stadium where the tennis competition will be held.

At the tennis center, there is only one Western-style toilet in every block of public conveniences, the rest being squat-style. The cubicles are also cramped and have steps, rendering them unusable for those in wheelchairs. Organizers have promised to fix the situation by April, just four months before the Opening Ceremony.

Kawaniwa says he experienced no problems with blockages during test-run events at Olympic sites and does not foresee it becoming an issue.

"If paper didn't flow through the toilets properly, it would become a massive problem within the International Olympic Committee," the tennis official tells Shukan Asahi, before adding undiplomatically: "They'll get it right, even if it is China we're talking about." (By Ryann Connell)

Mainichi Daily News

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