According to dispatches, Olympic officials in Tokyo are "closely monitoring" the waterways where canoeing and rowing contests are scheduled to be held in the next few weeks. They are on the lookout for ... .
If you're looking for the punchline, we have none to offer. They really are on the watch for oysters.
According to the account in The Washington Post, officials at the Games had to erect certain wave-reducing equipment in the Sea Forest Waterway to keep the white-tops from interfering with competition.
"An infestation first came to light during a trial event in 2019, shortly after the venue was created," The Post reports. "Equipment floating in the water suddenly began to sink, prompting crews to investigate what was weighing them down. To their surprise they found an army of oysters--14 metric tons, or about 31,000 pounds, to be precise."
Officials had to hire divers to clean them off.
The story reminds us of a memorable chapter in "The Innocents Abroad," in which Mr. Mark Twain, perhaps while visiting Asia Minor, struggled to the top of a hill which held a certain citadel 500 feet above sea level. Scattered about were perfectly good oyster shells. But no hints about how they got that high. After clues ruled out an old restaurant, and a theory about geology, and Noah having made oyster suppers there after The Flood, the author finally came to his conclusion:
"It is painful--it is even humiliating--but I am reduced at last to one slender theory: that the oysters climbed up there of their own accord. But what object could they have had in view?--what did they want up there? What could any oyster want to climb a hill for? To climb a hill must necessarily be fatiguing and annoying exercise for an oyster. The most natural conclusion would be that the oysters climbed up there to look at the scenery. Yet when one comes to reflect upon the nature of an oyster, it seems plain that he does not care for scenery. As oyster has no taste for such things; he cares nothing for the beautiful. An oyster is of a retiring disposition and not lively--not even cheerful above average, and never enterprising. But above all, an oyster does not take any interest in scenery--he scorns it."
But Mr. Twain could find no other explanation. The rogue oysters must've wanted up there real bad to go to all that trouble. Here's hoping there aren't any olympian-oyster conflicts in the next few weeks in the Sea Forest Waterway in Japan. You never can tell with those sneaky oysters.