Olympic leaders downplay Fukushima threat

Leak of radioactive water at nuclear plant will not affect Tokyo’s bid to host 2020 Games, according to organisers.

Around 80,000 gallons of contaminated water leaked from one of the tanks on Monday [AFP]
Around 80,000 gallons of contaminated water leaked from one of the tanks on Monday [AFP]

Tokyo bid leaders Friday pledged something special as they readied for the home straight in the contest to decide who will host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Officials preparing for the September 7 meeting in Buenos Aires of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that will award the Games downplayed renewed concerns over the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, where a radioactive leak was discovered this week.

Bid president Tsunekazu Takeda, flanked by Tokyo governor Naoki Inose, refused to reveal what they had up their sleeves for Argentina but expressed confidence that IOC members would be convinced of the city’s know-how and ability to host the world’s biggest multiple-sport event.

Deadline looming

“It’s hard to believe it’s already boiled down to just 15 days left,” Takeda told reporters.

“There is a sense of nervous energy as we close in on a six-year dream. We live in challenging and rapidly-changing times and Tokyo’s is the best bid to deliver a dynamic Games in this climate.”

Tokyo, which hosted the Olympics in 1964, lost out to Rio in the race to host the 2016 Games but organisers hope the city’s financial strength and their immediate access to a budget of $4.5 billion could swing the vote this time, with the IOC under pressure to curb Olympic spending.

“We will leave the IOC members in no doubt about our dependability and desire to host the Games,” added Takeda. “Our bid is much improved on four years ago and this time we’re absolutely ready.”

Alarming headlines about highly contaminated water leaking out of a storage tank at the nuclear plant, which was crippled by the deadly tsunami in 2011, have come at a bad time for Tokyo’s bid, but Inose insisted it would have no effect on the Olympic vote.

“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe has said it is not just an issue for (plant operator) Tokyo Electric Power Co to solve but the government too,” he said.

“The PM has ordered the government to help in the clean-up. Tokyo’s water and food are completely safe – the same as in London, Paris and New York. It will have no bearing at all on the vote on September 7.”

Source : AFP

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