As the announcement of the city that will host the 2020 Summer Olympics draws near, Tokyo 2020 bid chief Tsunekazu Takeda is not worried that the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the ongoing crisis that utility operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is fighting might discourage the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from choosing Japan’s capital as hosts for the quadrennial sports event. The IOC is set to announce the hosting city on Saturday in Buenos Aires, and it has been rumored that Tokyo is in a good position to win the bid.
Takeda insisted over a phone interview that despite the worrying news surrounding Fukushima, the leak would not affect the bid, as it is not be something the Tokyo population needs to worry about. Tokyo is competing with Madrid and Istanbul to win the IOC’s nod. “There is no risk from Fukushima,” Takeda said. “Day to day life in Tokyo carries on as normal for its 35 million people,” he added, reiterating that the air and water quality in the city remains safe. “Also the data show that the radiation level is the same as most cities, like Paris, London and New York,” Takeda explained. “Our main focus is to deliver a great and safe Olympic games.”
TEPCO’s six-reactor Fukushima nuclear facility was struck by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, causing three core meltdowns. In recent news, TEPCO has admitted 300 tons of radioactive water – waste water from the decommissioning process of the molted cores – has leaked from a large tank into the ground. It has also been revealed that some 300 tons of highly radioactive groundwater is entering the Pacific Ocean on a daily basis. The radiation into the Pacific is believed to be spreading and has effectively halted all fishing operations in the area. “The tsunami happened hundreds of miles from Tokyo but the consequences were felt by people throughout the country,” said Takeda, who is looking to bring Tokyo their second Olympics, following the first one in 1964. “It would be a huge morale boost to the whole country were we to win the right to host the Olympics,” Takeda added.