Tokyo Games organizers on Wednesday admitted to throwing away approximately 4,000 of the 10,000 pre-ordered bento boxes full of food that were to be fed to volunteers on the day of the opening ceremony.
Masanori Takaya, a spokesman for the organizing committee, confirmed a media report and apologized at a news conference held at the main press center.
"Because the order volume was large and there were many people who didn't eat, it was impossible to consume it all," Takaya said.
He explained that due to the volunteers' heavy workload, they did not have a chance to eat the food, which was set to be turned into animal feed and used for biomass power generation.
Takaya revealed that there has been an approximately 20% to 30% surplus of food across all venues, particularly on Friday, the day of the opening ceremony.
He promised to optimize ordering processes and to ensure volumes procured better correspond with what will be consumed to prevent waste.
With cardboard beds and recycled metal used in the medals, the Tokyo Games aim to be the most environmentally friendly ever. Organizers have emphasized the importance of sustainable practices under the slogan: "Be better, together — for the planet and the people."
Carbon emissions, energy, waste and food are among the environmental topics included in the Tokyo 2020 Sustainability Plan.
"Everyone can contribute to reducing food loss. Think of the word 'mottainai,' and let's try not to waste food," the official website of the Tokyo Games writes. "Mottainai" is an expression of regret when something is wasted.
On Tuesday, the organizing committee also apologized for not making an announcement to inform athletes and officials at the Games' opening ceremony to stand up before Emperor Naruhito proclaimed the start of the event.
The organizers' apology came after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike remained seated while Emperor Naruhito, who serves as honorary patron of the Tokyo Olympics, declared the opening of the event at the ceremony on Friday.
Suga and Koike have received criticism for "disrespectful" behavior, after they stood up in the middle of the Emperor's declaration.
The committee explained that they missed the opportunity to make the announcement because International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach asked the Emperor to declare the opening of the event at the end of his speech.
"We were not able to proceed (with the ceremony) as planned in the script," Takaya said. "We are sorry for confusing those involved."
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