TOKYO: Even under ordinary circumstances, feeding an Olympic Village is a mammoth task, with chefs preparing tens of thousands of meals a day for elite athletes from around the world. But at Tokyo 2020, there’s an added pressure: strict coronavirus rules forbid athletes from eating at local restaurants, so it’s their only chance to sample Japan’s famous cuisine. “I feel it’s a lot of responsibility for us,” admitted Tsutomu Yamane, senior director of Tokyo 2020’s food and beverages services department. “We want them to enjoy (Japanese food)… but it’s major pressure,” he said. cIt’s a huge undertaking: the village can host up to 18,000 people at a time and its cafeterias will serve up to 48,000 meals a day, with some open around the clock. Anti-infection rules mean athletes can’t go anywhere but the village, training sites and competition venues. So organisers will provide 700 menu options, 3,000 seats at the main two-storey cafeteria and 2,000 staff at peak hours to meet the needs of all. Menus are largely divided into three categories: Western, Japanese and Asian, which covers Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese options. And given Japan’s world-famous cuisine, there will be plenty of local flavour. The focus will be on informal dishes rather than high-end dining, with ramen and udon noodles among the staples, said Yamane. Always-popular ramen will be offered in two of its most famous broths: soy sauce, and miso ––– the fermented soybean paste that is central to Japanese cuisine. But there may be one big disappointment for Japanese food fans: no sushi with raw fish. Safety rules mean rolls will only feature cooked shrimp, canned tuna, cucumber and pickled plum. Two other favourites will be available though: grilled wagyu beef and tempura ––– battered, fried vegetables and seafood. Some less familiar Japanese dishes will also be featured, including two specialities from the western Osaka region: okonomiyaki and takoyaki. The former is a savoury pancake cooked on a griddle that often contains cabbage and pork and is topped with a sweet sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. Takoyaki are small batter balls filled with octopus. And there is Japanese home cooking, courtesy of locals who entered a competition to have their dishes featured.