The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on Saturday to decide whether Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games after radiation readings around the contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant site soar to an all-time high.
Tokyo’s Olympic bid chief this week did his best to play down the concerns of IOC officials, claiming that the Japanese capital was as safe London, New York or Paris.
“Right now Tokyo’s radiation level is comparable to London, Paris and New York and here as well,” said bid leader Tsunekazu Takeda in Buenos Aires,in hopes of appeasing concerns that are threatening the city’s chance to host the world’s largest and most illustrious sporting event.
“It’s absolutely safe,” said Takeda, who also added that he had written a letter to IOC members to assure there was no threat of radiation to Tokyo, which was located some 230 km (140 miles) from the nuclear plant site.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a leader in the gambit to host the Games, is due to fly in Buenos Aires before this weekend’s deciding vote.
Japan’s government recently pledged nearly $500 million to contain leaks and decontaminate radioactive water at the coastal Fukushima plant, which was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that triggered reactor meltdowns in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.