Candidate sites for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were found measuring radiation levels exceeding the standards. An independent group that did the measurements sent their findings to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but both have only dismissed the results.
Yumenoshima Stadium of Koto Ward in Tokyo recorded the highest airborne radiation level with 0.484 microsievert per hour. It was measured 5 cm above ground in shrubs next to the southern entrance of the stadium. Areas exceeding 0.23 microsievert per hour are supposed to be decontaminated. As for the site’s soil radiation level, the group measured 3,040 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. Twelve Baseball fields adjacent to the stadium will be used for equestrian events at the 2020 Olympics. In Shibuya Ward, the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium and Yoyogi Gymnasium also recorded high radiation levels at 5 cm above ground level. The former is considered to hold the Table Tennis events, while the latter will be used for the Handball tournament.
The citizens group that initiated the measurements of possible venues for the 2020 Olympics was formed by Takehiko Tsukushi, a 70-year old resident of Kita Ward. Those in the prefectures of Tokyo, Saitama, and Kanagawa were measured by the group but the other 37 sites were not covered. Possible Olympic venues in the prefectures of Miyagi and Hokkaido were also not covered because of the distance from Tokyo.
“The central and Tokyo metropolitan governments have not informed athletes and audiences around the world about data concerning possible radiation exposure,” Tsukushi said. “If that is the case, I felt it was our moral responsibility as citizens to conduct the measurement and inform people, regardless of whether they support or oppose having the Olympics in Tokyo.”
Despite the group’s reported high radiation levels, the metropolitan government of Tokyo dismissed the findings, which were translated into English and French before being sent to 200 national Olympic committees including then IOC President Jacques Rogge. “It is difficult for us to make a judgment with the data collected, even if someone said there was a problem,” a Tokyo official said. The Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health in Shinjuku Ward has been measuring radiation levels in the metropolis even before the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima. No area or hot spot was found exceeding the standards in 100 locations three months after the meltdown. Subsequent results also remained low. “Radiation levels in Tokyo are no different from those in New York, London and Paris. There is no problem,” claimed Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose during a conference for the Tokyo bid.
“Saying there is no problem without even measuring for radiation is the same response as the Democratic Party of Japan government immediately after the Fukushima nuclear accident,” said Noguchi. He also believes that as a host nation for the Olympics, “It is imperative that radiation levels at the venues be released to the world.”
Nevertheless, other local governments like Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures have taken the appropriate measures. “If we receive reports about high radiation levels, even if it is isolated, we will conduct another measurement in that area,” an official from Saitama Prefecture said. “And if decontamination standards are exceeded, the manager of the facility in question will decontaminate the area.”
[via Asahi Shimbun]