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Tokyo 2020 Olympics ‘back on track’ after rocky start

Tokyo, Japan: On a nondescript patch of land east of Tokyo, cranes are whirring frantically against a city skyscraper backdrop as 200 workers toil on the 2020 Olympic canoe venue.

With the Pyeongchang winter games closed, Tokyo is stepping up preparations for the next event on the Olympic calendar, with busy building sites dotted around the Japanese capital.

Unlike in previous Olympic host countries, where there was a scramble to finish venues on time, Japan appears to be living up to its reputation for efficiency, with foreman after foreman telling AFP on a recent tour of sites: "We are on schedule."

The Aquatics Centre in Tokyo Bay is a hive of activity with workers scurrying around the huge site, pushing to finish a venue that will eventually welcome 24,000 cheering supporters.

"Roughly 25 percent of the work is already done," said Daishuu Tone, director of venues for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

"We are confident we will be on time," he added, with the first test events scheduled for mid-2019.

The city's governor Yuriko Koike told AFP in an interview that Tokyo was making "steady progress" towards hosting the games, the second in its history after 1964.

"We hope to make it a wonderful Games," she said during an interview in an imposing 48-floor office looming over the Tokyo skyline.

And Tokyo 2020 chief executive officer Toshiro Muto is also bullish, telling reporters: "Everything is going very smoothly and I can clearly say that most of the competition venues are on track and they will be completed as scheduled."

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