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Replace Tokyo by London as Host of 2020 Olympics

London Seems Ready to Replace Tokyo as Host of 2020 Olympics

Feb 20, 2020

London, Feb. 19 (Jiji Press)–Two major candidates in the London mayoral election in May suggested Wednesday that the city is ready to host the 2020 Summer Olympics if Tokyo is forced to give up hosting the Games due to a possible epidemic of the new coronavirus in Japan.

London, which hosted the 2012 Games, “can host the Olympics in 2020,” Conservative challenger Shaun Bailey said on Twitter.

“We have the infrastructure and the experience. And due to the coronavirus outbreak, the world might need us to step up,” Bailey said.

“As Mayor, I will make sure London is ready to answer the call and host the Olympics again,” he said.

Local newspaper City A.M. reported a comment by a spokesman for Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan that London will do its best in the unlikely event that it be required, although everyone is working toward the success of the Tokyo Games.

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2020022000480/london-seems-ready-to-replace-tokyo-as-host-of-2020-olympics.html

tokyo-2020John Coates, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games coordination committee (left), and Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori

Tokyo Olympics have no ‘Plan B’ for coronavirus, organizers say

February 14, 2020

There is no “Plan B” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if the event is affected by the coronavirus outbreak in nearby China, organizers said.

There’s no case for any contingency plans or canceling the Games or moving the Games,” John Coates, head of an International Olympics Committee inspection team, said at a press conference in Tokyo Thursday.

Coates, who had just wrapped up a two-day trip to investigate possible risks, said the World Health Organization has advised him that a back-up plan isn’t necessary.

He added that the starting date of July 24 “remains on track.”

The rapidly spreading virus has infected nearly 64,000 people worldwide and claimed the lives of 1,400 people, with only one fatality reported in Japan.

At the press event, elected officials were also asked if there are any “organizational changes” planned for rolling out the games in light of the virus.

This stage, no. We are not thinking of any such possibility,” said Yoshiro Mori, a former Japanese prime minister who is heading the Olympic planning committee.

But outside experts warned that coronavirus-related health risks to Japan are hard to predict.

There is no guarantee that the outbreak will come to an end before the Olympics because we have no scientific basis to be able to say that,” Shigeru Omi, a former regional director of the WHO.

We should assume that the virus has already been spreading in Japan.”

https://nypost.com/2020/02/14/tokyo-olympics-have-no-plan-b-for-coronavirus-organizers-say/

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Radiation Hotspots Raise Concerns Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

“According to Greenpeace, the figure of 71 microsieverts per hour is “1,775 times higher than the 0.04 microsieverts per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown”.

After the accident, the Japanese government took the controversial decision to raise the maximum exposure threshold for civilians in Fukushima from 1 millisievert (=1,000 microsieverts) per year, the figure recommended by the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to 20 millisieverts per year.

Even on this basis, the annualized equivalent of 71 microsieverts per hour amounts to nearly 622 millisieverts, a figure 31 times higher.”

 

01.jpgArea of radioactive hot spots found by Greenpeace survey team in J-Village, Fukushima prefecture, 26 October 2019.

December 8, 2019

This is one of the most shocking discoveries I’ve made in decades of radiation surveys.”

The troubling discovery was supposed to remain under wraps, until Greenpeace Japan determined on December 4 that it had no choice but to publish a press release entitled “High-level radiation hot spots found at J-Village, the starting point of Tokyo 2020 torch relay.”

The story remains largely unnoticed in Japan, but it raises serious questions about public health, transparency and accountability that transcend the country’s borders all the way to Switzerland and Argentina. It also deals a heavy blow to the Japanese government’s narrative that “all is well in Fukushima,” a region forever tainted by the triple meltdown at the eponymous nuclear plant, as Tokyo gears up to host the 2020 Olympics.

On a deeper level, the sequence of events sheds light on an apparent cover-up that would result in a public relations fiasco — that is, if the media covering the issue were asking the right questions, connecting the dots and delivering the full picture.

This is one of the most shocking discoveries I’ve made in decades of radiation surveys,” says Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace who has been the environmental NGO’s point man in Fukushima since the triple meltdown of March 2011. “One of the reasons is that the Tokyo Olympics torch relay is set to kick off from this very location on March 26.”

A Symbol of Fukushima’s Cleanup

The location where the radiation hotspots were discovered, J-Village, is highly symbolic for Japan. Tens of millions of people first heard of it at the peak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, when Japanese Self-Defense Force troops dispatched in a last-ditch effort to bring the situation under control turned the sports complex into a forward operating base. The location of J-Village, approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, was ideal because it was right at the edge of the mandatory evacuation perimeter imposed by the government — often referred to as the exclusion zone.

Over the years that followed, J-Village became a logistics center for the decontamination of areas tainted by radioactive fallout from the nuclear plant. And in April 2019, the reopening of a completely renovated J-Village National Training Center became the cornerstone of a major public relations campaign to signal that the cleanup of Fukushima was finally complete.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chose J-Village as the “grand” starting point, on March 26, 2020, of the torch relay that will see the Olympic flame travel across all of Japan’s 47 prefectures — the equivalent of U.S. States — over 121 days.

The Tokyo Games themselves are seen by many in Japan as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shine on the world stage. And in the same way that the Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics marked the country’s rise from the ashes of war, the 2020 edition is being marketed, especially on the domestic front, as the “Reconstruction Olympics” in reference to the triple disaster of March 2011.

An Unexpected Discovery

On October 26, a team of radiation experts from Greenpeace, which has been carrying out annual surveys across Fukushima since the 2011 nuclear accident, detected abnormally high levels of radiation at several points around the sports complex. The survey was part of an annual study covering the main contaminated areas of Fukushima, which involves taking tens of thousands of measurements with high-precision sensors mounted on drones, vehicles and handheld devices.

The highest reading, 71 microsieverts per hour at ground level, was discovered in a parking area. “I was standing less than one meter from the hotspot and two meters from a parked car from which a woman had just come out,” recalls team leader Shaun Burnie. “Just 30 to 40 meters away, soccer players were sitting on the tarmac eating their lunch. There were also sports fans, family members and coaches.”

 

02.jpgYouth soccer game, J-Village Stadium, Hirono, Fukushima. 9 August 2010.

According to Greenpeace, the figure of 71 microsieverts per hour is “1,775 times higher than the 0.04 microsieverts per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown”. After the accident, the Japanese government took the controversial decision to raise the maximum exposure threshold for civilians in Fukushima from 1 millisievert (=1,000 microsieverts) per year, the figure recommended by the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to 20 millisieverts per year. Even on this basis, the annualized equivalent of 71 microsieverts per hour amounts to nearly 622 millisieverts, a figure 31 times higher.

Obviously no one is going to stand over a hotspot for a year, but it indicates that there is a problem with contamination,” says Burnie. “The much more serious hazard is inhaling cesium-rich microparticles. The long-term risks remain a big unknown.”

[Note: The health risks associated with external exposure to such levels of radiation are a highly complex and contentious issue that goes beyond the scope of this article. It is partly addressed in this Scientific American article on the return of Fukushima residents displaced by the nuclear crisis.]

Weighing Options

The Greenpeace team spent only about two hours on location, but it quickly identified six hotspots within approximately 100 meters of each other. “Finding such high levels, especially in areas open to the public, was an unexpected situation to say the least,” says Burnie.

The team immediately discussed and considered three options: 1) an immediate release of the information; 2) informing authorities and urging them to take action; and 3) holding onto the information, compiling the data from the entire Fukushima survey — a process that takes between one and two months — and publishing the annual report as planned sometime at the end of February or early March (see for example Greenpeace Japan’s March 2019 report).

We immediately ruled out the third option because of the high radiation levels,” says Burnie. “The first option was very tempting, but we wanted to give the authorities of J-Village, Fukushima Prefecture and the government an opportunity to take action immediately.” Greenpeace settled for option two, in the form of a letter to Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi.

Copies of the letter were sent separately to the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture (who also presides over J-Village), the president of the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the president of the International Paralympic Committee, and last but not least, the President of the powerful International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne.

Birth of a Public Relations Fiasco

On November 18, Greenpeace entrusted the letter to an official from the Environment Ministry’s PR department. The copies were all sent on the same day via registered mail. In the letter, the NGO raised “urgent concerns,” presented the survey’s methodology and findings, and recommended an “immediate and extensive” survey of the public area in and around J-Village.

What followed was two weeks of complete radio silence, despite regular follow-up inquiries by telephone to the Environment Ministry and J-Village’s PR departments. Until, on Monday, Dec. 2, Greenpeace Japan received a phone call from a reporter with the Sankei Shimbun, a daily newspaper on the (arguably hard) right of the political spectrum. The journalist sought confirmation about the survey, which a Greenpeace spokesperson refused to confirm or deny.

On Tuesday, the same journalist called again, this time with the precise figure of 71 microsieverts per hour. The cat was out of the bag, and the Sankei article set to go to print on Wednesday. That is what prompted Greenpeace to go public on Dec. 4 with a full-fledged press release.

 

03.jpgScreenshot of Greenpeace Japan’s website.

The NGO’s original plan, according to Senior Energy Campaigner Kazue Suzuki, had been to wait until mid-December for a proper response from the government and J-Village. At the time of writing (Dec. 8), the only reaction Greenpeace had received from the Environment Ministry’s PR department, according to Suzuki, was a verbal commitment to “work towards being able to reply by Dec.19.”

At this point in time, it would have been reasonable to believe that authorities were simply dragging their feet, all the more so because Greenpeace Japan is not exactly popular in government circles due to its campaigns against Japan’s whaling programs, and the NGO’s highly critical stance on the issue of nuclear decontamination. But the Sankei’s Dec. 4 article also carried revelations that raise a whole new set of questions.

A Discreet Bombshell

The Sankei article, entitled “Starting Point of Olympic Torch Relay Re-Decontaminated,” cited “multiple government sources” confirming Greenpeace’s survey findings, including the maximum figure of 71 microsieverts per hour. It also revealed for the first time to the public the existence of a letter “requesting action from the Environment Ministry, the Japanese Olympic Committee and the IOC“ — but stopped short of mentioning that the letter had been sent 2 weeks earlier.

The government takes survey results seriously due to possible safety concerns among countries participating in the Olympics”, noted the article, before delivering this crucial nugget: “On December 2, representatives from the Environment Ministry, local authorities, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and J-Village held a meeting, and on Dec. 3, Tepco removed [contaminated] soil from the surrounding area.”

More importantly, the Sankei article suddenly made it clear, albeit between the lines, that neither the government nor Fukushima Prefecture or Tepco — entities that have repeatedly pledged greater transparency over radioactive contamination — had deemed it necessary to inform the public about the hotspots or their decision to decontaminate those areas.

Also puzzling is the silence of Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori, who as President of J-Village was a direct recipient of the Greenpeace letter. If this matter came to the attention of his constituents, his administration would most likely have to field questions from angry parents whose children attended summer camps at the facility, among other concerned citizens.

What’s more, there is no sign of any intention on the part of authorities to conduct an immediate and comprehensive survey of the entire J-Village complex, as urged by Greenpeace Japan. “If this were a nuclear facility,” says Burnie, “the matter would have to be reported as an incident and the area closed off immediately.”

Low-Key Media Coverage

Unlike what one would expect in nuclear-powered countries such as France or the United States, none of Japan’s mainstream media have deemed this story worthy of high-profile coverage.

Sankei’s short article was buried on page 26, which explains perhaps why few other Japanese media such as the Mainichi Shimbun picked up the story, all in a similar, low-key fashion. The headlines didn’t read anything close to “Government Occults Radiation Hotspots at J-Village,” nor did the articles raise questions about transparency or accountability.

More often than not, even Greenpeace’s name was replaced with “an environmental protection group,” despite its conspicuous role as the whistleblower that initially brought this matter to the government’s attention.

Bloomberg and AFP were among the few non-Japanese media to pick up the story, but neither offered details about the timeline of events or its wider implications.

Did authorities know of any hotspots at or near the facility before receiving the Greenpeace letter? If not, why did they fail to spot them? Why did they choose to remain silent after determining that radiation levels warranted an intervention? Are they in a position to guarantee that J-Village will remain clean until the Olympic torch relay? Is it reasonable to hold sports training sessions and competitions involving children at the facility?

All of these questions have yet to be addressed, and it’s unclear if they ever will be.

This is not the first time that news related to the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi remained, intentionally or not, under the radar of Japanese media. Nor is it the first time that the government has opted not to disclose matters directly relevant to public health or safety.

 

04.jpgAuthor comparing the readings of handheld geiger counter with official monitoring post in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. 31 August 2013.

Notable examples include the Japanese media’s reticence to use the word “meltdown” for 6 weeks after the nuclear accident, opting instead to relay the government and Tepco’s less frightening “partial damage to fuel rods” wording; the general absence in media reports of testimonies from nuclear evacuees openly expressing their distrust of data from the government’s radiation monitoring posts (some claimed to have seen workers regularly decontaminating the area immediately around the sensors, presumably to make sure the readings remained low); and the revelation in February 2012 that the Japanese government, in its darkest hour, had contemplated evacuating Tokyo.

Outside Japan: the Argentina Angle and the IOC

On the international front, the issue that appears to worry the Japanese government the most, as underlined by the Sankei article, is how countries participating in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics might react. But there are other dots that no Japanese or foreign media seem to have connected so far: J-Village was also an important facility during the Rugby World Cup hosted by Japan this year, and served as a training ground for Argentina’s national team less than 6 weeks before the hotspots were discovered.

According to a reporter from Argentina’s leading newspaper La Nacion, who covered the team during the tournament, Los Pumas (as the squad is known) spent at least one week training and sleeping at J-Village in mid-September. Would they have done so if there had been any suspicions about radiation levels in the area?

Neither Argentina’s national squad nor the Argentina Rugby Union could be reached for comment at the time of writing. Details about this story and an offer to collaborate on it were extended to La Nacion’s reporter as early as December 4, but they have yet to elicit a formal response.

The other angle that needs to be pursued is in Switzerland, namely at the headquarters of the Grand Master of Ceremonies itself, the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.

The IOC is on the list of institutions that received the registered letter from Greenpeace Japan. And just like its Japanese counterparts, it has yet to respond to the NGO — let alone inform the public about the findings. Among the questions that come to mind are: what is the IOC’s position on the matter of radioactive hotspots? And how does it feel about hosting a large-scale public event such as the launch of the torch relay at J-Village, without a comprehensive survey being conducted first?

Here again, a Swiss newspaper, La Liberté, was contacted directly and provided with detailed information about the story, particularly on the IOC angle, but its editors chose not to follow through.

Author’s Analysis

It’s unusual for a journalist to include personal thoughts as part of a news story. But in the spirit of Citizen Truth’s belief “in the power of regular people sharing their news, thoughts and experiences,” this reporter — who, like any journalist, is also an ordinary citizen — would like to switch to the first person to share a few considerations with the readers, while keeping them separate from the story itself.

I spent several years covering the Fukushima nuclear accident as a reporter for Nuclear Intelligence Weekly, and more episodically for other non-Japanese media, including Time, the Independent and Canada’s CBC. I interviewed evacuees, spent the equivalent of one week with a farmer inside the exclusion zone, walked around with an industrial-grade Geiger counter, wrote a long critical assessment of decontamination efforts in Fukushima for the Asia-Pacific Journal, and even participated as an observer in a survey at sea off Fukushima Daiichi aboard a research vessel operated by the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

What are my takeaways? To name just a few related to this article: Japanese media are notoriously reluctant to disclose any negative information that hasn’t been confirmed by the government or other official sources; understanding radiation figures and what they mean takes a lot of time and effort, and there are still significant doubts about the government’s willingness to be transparent and forthcoming with the numbers, especially when they don’t fit with the narrative that all is well in Fukushima.

Despite the Japanese government’s constant assurances, the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear crisis are not going to go away anytime soon, nor are the radionuclides that have been scattered across large areas of the prefecture. You only have to look at a map to see that 70 to 80 percent of the land most affected by radioactive fallout consists of mountains and forests that can by definition not be “decontaminated” without causing tremendous damage to the environment. The direct consequence is that radioactive particles continue to be scattered across areas designated as “safe to return to,” and although background radiation levels are receding, they will remain above normal even in the reopened parts of Fukushima for decades to come.

To me, it’s no surprise that this story appears to have been nipped in the bud, or at least neutralized for now. The only scenario I can think of that would prompt Japan’s mainstream media to revisit it would be if an official protest were lodged by another country or institution, for example, Argentina’s Rugby Union. Only time will tell.

https://citizentruth.org/fukushima-radiation-hotspots-raise-concerns-ahead-of-tokyo-olympics/?fbclid=IwAR2FpKvrRETg6cTqUt0cSIQ4lXQn-iQ-hZ00rax-yDXnBy_APWWKr0GbUoQ

 

December 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 1 Comment

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: will Fukushima rice and fruits be on the menu?

Japanese officials insist food from Fukushima is safe despite the 2011 nuclear disaster but China, South Korea and the US still restrict food imports from there
Producers are keen to serve local rice, fruits, beef and vegetables at the Olympic Village
 
01
An angler shows off a salmon caught in the Kido River in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture.
 
 
For years, Japan’s government has sought to convince consumers that food from Fukushima is safe despite the nuclear disaster. But will it serve the region’s produce at the Tokyo Olympics?
It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Games in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Government officials tout strict checks on food from the region as evidence that the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.
In the Fukushima region, producers are keen to see their products served at the Olympic Village and have submitted a bid to the organisers.
“The Fukushima region has put forward food from 187 producers and is second only to Hokkaido when it comes to meeting the specified criteria in terms of range of products,” said Shigeyuki Honma, assistant director general of the local government’s agriculture and forestry planning division.
“Fukushima wants to serve athletes its rice, its fruits, beef and vegetables. But the committee still has to decide.”
In the years since the nuclear disaster, when tsunami waves overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, strict measures have been in place to screen all manner of local products. And officials say the figures speak for themselves.
Japan allows a maximum of 100 becquerels of caesium radioactivity per kilogram (Bq/kg). The European Union, by comparison, sets that level at 1,250 Bq/kg and the US at 1,200.
From April 2018 to March this year, 9.21 million bags of rice were examined, with not a single one exceeding the Japanese limit.
The same for 2,455 samples of fruit and vegetables, 4,336 pieces of meat and 6,187 ocean fish.
“Only river fish and wild mushrooms have on just six occasions been found to exceed the limits,” said Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, in Koriyama, the government’s main screening site.
But the figures have only gone some way to reassuring foreign officials: numerous countries including China, South Korea, and the United States maintain restrictions on the import of some or all produce from Fukushima.
02
Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, subjects fish to radiation tests.
 
South Korea, which is currently locked in a dispute with Japan over wartime issues, has been vocal about its concerns ahead of the Olympics, even raising the possibility of bringing in its own kitchen and food.
“We have requested the Olympic organisers to provide objective data verified by an independent third body,” the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee said in a statement earlier this year.
“Since Japan repeatedly said its food from Fukushima is safe, we have demanded they provide statistics and data to back up their claims,” an official with the committee said.
The position underlines a long-running problem for Japan: while it points to its extensive, government-mandated checks as proof of safety, many abroad feel the government is not an objective arbiter.
 
03
In 2011, tsunami waves overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
 
“Generally, Japanese citizens have faith in the government, and we haven’t felt the need to have checks carried out by independent parties,” Kusano said.
But lingering questions have left some officials feeling “perhaps [third-party checks] may be important from the point of view of foreigners,” he added.
The International Olympic Committee said it was still weighing how to handle the matter.
“Food menus and catering companies for the Olympic Village are under discussion and have yet to be defined,” a spokesman said.
The Tokyo 2020 organisers said promoting areas affected by the 2011 disaster remains a key goal.
04
Japanese pear farmer Tomio Kusano shows how he removed the tree skins after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster at his farm in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture.
 
“Supporting the area’s reconstruction efforts through the sourcing of its food and beverage products is one of our basic strategies; we are therefore seriously considering doing this,” 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said.
He said rules on what food and drink could be brought in independently by teams were still being reviewed. And, pointing to the strict standards of Japanese checks, he said the organisers “are confident the food we will serve to athletes will be completely safe”.
In Fukushima, producers can only wait and hope for the best.
 
Tomio Kusano, a pear farmer in Iwaki on the Fukushima coast, struggled enormously after the disaster.
“My world really collapsed, but I never thought for a second of quitting,” he said.
And his perseverance is finally paying off, he said.
“I don’t get subsidies any more. My pears are inspected and there are no problems. They are selling well again in Japan, and Vietnam has started to import them.”

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chefs to join Team South Korea in Tokyo Olympics

optimizePresident of Korean Sports and Olympic Committee Lee Kee-heung

November 5, 2019

Chefs and food ingredients will accompany the South Korean team and delegation traveling to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next year. The chefs will prepare food for the South Koreans using homegrown ingredients for the duration of the Games.

Korean Sports and Olympic Committee (KSOC) President Lee Kee-heung, also a member of the International Olympic Committee, unveiled the measures to allay fears over food safety which were raised after Japan announced it would use food products from Fukushima, a region hit hard by a 2011 tsunami and an ensuing meltdown at the nuclear power plant there.

“The KSOC is planning to expand the meal station for Korean athletes during the games to address the food safety issue,” he wrote in a recent written interview with The Korea Times. “Korean food has superb nutritional value and we believe it will help the athletes perform at their best. We will also deliver lunch boxes to the stadiums so our athletes can focus on getting medals,” Lee said.

Earlier, the Japanese Olympic Committee said it would serve athletes food made using ingredients from Fukushima, a region in which water and soil are feared to remain contaminated with radioactivity following the meltdown. South Korea banned rice and vegetable imports from the region immediately after the incident.

The Tokyo Olympics is not the first international sports event where the KSOC has dispatched chefs to prepare meals for athletes. During the 2012 London Olympics, the KSOC sent chefs and nutritionists from the national training center to cook for Korean athletes and staff who craved food from home.

Food safety is among other touchy issues at the Olympics.

The “Rising Sun” flag, a symbol for many in Asia of Japanese colonialism, is another pre-Olympics issue that some South Koreans find concerning. The issue has been raised by Seoul since September after relations with Japan deteriorated following it imposing trade restrictions on certain exports to Korea. In response, Japan said use of the flag does not violate the Japanese Constitution.

Lee said the KSOC has been working to make an Asian alliance to push Japan to not fly it.

“During the 24th Association of the National Olympic Committee (ANOC) General Assembly in Qatar earlier this year, I met with other Asian state representatives and discussed ways to address the issue together. On this issue, our effort to change Japan’s policy will continue and with the support of the government,” he said. ANOC has an annual meeting, and this year’s congress took place in Doha.

Joint Korea team

Lee said he was cautiously optimistic about fielding a joint team between the two Koreas for the Tokyo Olympics, saying the KSOC has continued to talk with the North.

However, another high-level official, who didn’t want to disclose his name because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a joint team may be a distant dream. “Considering what’s going on in inter-Korean relations, it’s difficult to move on a joint team,” he said. He had taken part in negotiations with the North in the past.

A joint team for the 2020 Olympics was agreed in November 2018 at inter-Korean talks held in Gaesong in the North. That year, President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held three summits.

The governments of the two Koreas agreed to form unified teams in female basketball, female hockey, judo and rowing. “The IOC approved this under one condition ― that is the unified teams would start from qualifying matches,” the anonymous official said.

For all sports but basketball, qualifying matches are already underway. “Basketball qualifying matches will begin at the end of the year. Yet, if things go the way it goes now, unifying a basketball team will be out of the question,” he said. But, he added hopes remain in judo. “In judo, individual athletes compete for qualification. We can consider making a joint team with qualified athletes.”

However, the political situation will hold full sway over the joint team and the current circumstances are not very promising.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of all South Korean-built facilities at Mount Geumgang, including a hotel. North Korea’s aggressive treatment of South Korean football players during their World Cup qualifying game also cast a shadow on the prospects for a joint team.

Despite this, there is still hope for a possible peace gesture during the Olympics.

The official said a joint march at the opening ceremony could still happen. “This has been done several times now, so we could continue to do it.”

North and South Korean athletes have marched together at international sports events 11 times so far. The most recent being the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea ― the Koreas also fielded a joint women’s ice hockey team.

In addition to creating the joint team, the two Koreas also agreed to submit a joint bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics, and President Lee said they have a very good chance.

“The Korean Peninsula can be a symbol of peace which will be something we can take advantage of in our campaign for the Olympics,” Lee said, noting that South Korea will host the next ANOC General Assembly. “This will be also a good opportunity to show the sports community that the Koreas are qualified to host the Olympics.”

As an IOC member representing Korea, Lee is at the center of sports diplomacy.

“Now, Korea has two IOC representatives, which has elevated its standing in global sports.” Korea’s sports diplomacy had its heyday in the 2000s when it had three IOC representatives, but in 2017, the number went down to one, raising concern that its standing had weakened.”

Lee viewed the PyeongChang Winter Olympics as demonstrating Korea’s success in sports diplomacy. “This helped Korea get two IOC representatives.”

100th National Sports Festival

With regard to the centennial of the National Sports Festival, Lee said he was saddened by the decreasing public interest. “It will be my job to revamp the festival so that it will recover its lost popularity with bigger public interest and participation.”

The festival started out as an act of resistance to colonial Japan in 1920. In the first year, only baseball was played but other sports were added over the century. This year saw 47 sports including trials of two new ones.

Over the century, the festival served as an incubator for world-class athletes. Figure-skater Kim Yu-na competed in the festival as did Swimmer Park Tae-hwan. The festival has also contributed to developing the infrastructure for Korean sports.

Born in 1955, Lee’s background has been in business, not sports. His first step into the world of sports was with the Federation of the Modern Pentathlon where he served as vice president in 2000. Between 2004 and 2009, he was the president of the Korea Canoe Federation, followed by the Korea Swimming Federation between 2010 and 2016..

He headed the athlete’s team in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou in China and 2012 London Summer Olympics.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/sports/2019/11/663_277969.html?fbclid=IwAR3ix0GrN24HHf7-EtLYzv2xjqBqrdyA5WgmWGZVuCRW9W8maIKubeG-bgQ

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Activists urge Japan to avoid Fukushima in Tokyo Olympics

20191010000679_0
Oct 10, 2019
South Korean civic groups on Thursday kicked off a global campaign against potential radiation risks during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, demanding that Japan ban Fukushima food products and cancel games at the Japanese city.
 
“We launch an international campaign to protect thousands of athletes and visitors at the Tokyo Olympics from radiation risks and to stop the Japanese government from using the Olympics as a tool” to conceal lingering damages from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the environmental groups told a press briefing in Seoul.
 
Taking part in the initiative are a handful of Korean environmental organizations, consisting of activists and academics, as well as major environmental and anti-nuclear groups based in Germany, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The civic groups demanded the Japanese government and Olympics organizers refrain from providing food produced near Fukushima and cancel games scheduled to be held in the city. They also urged the torch relay to be held in areas outside of Fukushima, which was hit by the nuclear disaster caused by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
 
They also claimed that if Japan seeks to misuse Olympic events for a political or commercial purpose, it would goes against the Olympic spirit.
 
The environmental groups said they plan to collect signatures through an online website and hold international conferences to raise awareness on the risks of radiation.
 
Some baseball and softball games are scheduled to take place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, according to the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games website.
 
It also shows that a 121-day torch relay will “commence on March 26, 2020, in Fukushima Prefecture and start its journey southwards” in an aim at “showcasing solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.” (Yonhap)

October 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

International Olympic Committee President confirms Japan’s food products are safe

Business is business, never mind people’s health….A question though, did Abe’s government paid an additional bribe for this declaration or was it included in the first bribe paid to get the Olympics to Tokyo as an all included package deal?
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IOC chief to confirm Japan’s food products are safe
 
September 24, 2019
New York – International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach intends to assure participants of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics that Japanese food products are safe following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.
He conveyed his intentions to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York after two international organizations announced last year that the products are adequately managed, the ministry said.
A joint team of the International Atomic Energy Association and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in June last year that inspections for radioactive substances and distribution management of food from Japan were adequate, according to the ministry.
Bach told Abe he would inform the participating countries of the 2020 games of this view, the ministry said.
This comes after South Korea announced last month that it would double the number of samples and frequency of inspections for radioactive substances on some processed foods and agricultural products from Japan.
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The move by the South Korean government marks a tightening of measures first implemented following a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Abe and Bach also agreed to jointly seek the adoption later this year of a U.N. resolution calling for a truce during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.
It is customary for the United Nations to adopt a truce resolution before the summer and winter games and Tokyo has been leading preparations for a new one as host of the upcoming sporting events.
Bach was quoted by the Japanese Foreign Ministry as telling Abe that he will work with Tokyo to have the resolution co-sponsored by as many countries as possible.
Abe and Bach also reaffirmed they will continue to work closely together to make the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics a success, the ministry said.
The Japanese leader also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II over dinner and expressed Tokyo’s intention to help alleviate the country’s burden in accepting refugees from neighboring Syria. The two welcomed the strengthening of bilateral ties in security, economic and other areas, according to the ministry.
 
 
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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach
 
IOC chief to confirm Japan’s food products are safe after 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster
 
 
September 24, 2019
NEW YORK (Kyodo) — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach intends to assure participants of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics that Japanese food products are safe following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.
He conveyed his intentions to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York after two international organizations announced last year that the products are adequately managed, the ministry said.
A joint team of the International Atomic Energy Association and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in June last year that inspections for radioactive substances and distribution management of food from Japan were adequate, according to the ministry.
Bach told Abe he would inform the participating countries of the 2020 games of this view, the ministry said.
This comes after South Korea announced last month that it would double the number of samples and frequency of inspections for radioactive substances on some processed foods and agricultural products from Japan.
The move by the South Korean government marks a tightening of measures first implemented following a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive sushi: Japan-South Korea spat extends to Olympic cuisine

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A Tokyo Electric Power official wears radioactive protective gear at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2014.
August 23, 2019
TOKYO —  The specter of radioactive sushi on menus at the Tokyo Olympics is a new front in an increasingly vindictive spat between South Korea and Japan, two U.S. allies that can’t seem to get along.
With tensions between the neighbors the highest in decades, South Korea’s delegation to Japan’s 2020 Games raised concerns this week about radiation at Olympic venues near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and the risk that athletes might consume contaminated food.
The protest formed part of a three-pronged attack that suggested South Korea is using the tsunami-induced 2011 nuclear meltdown as another stick with which to poke Japan. The two sides’ dispute over trade and compensation for wartime forced labor escalated Thursday when Seoul scrapped a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact.
On Monday, South Korea said it summoned a Japanese diplomat to express concerns about the possibility that treated radioactive groundwater stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant might someday be released into the ocean — although Japan says the meeting came at its request. A day later, South Korea’s Olympics delegation raised worries about radiation at an international meeting with Tokyo Games organizers, while on Wednesday, Seoul’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it would double the radiation testing of some Japanese food imports because of contamination fears. 
The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee has operated separate cafeterias for its athletes at past Olympics and is considering expanding that operation in Japan due to concerns about food safety, spokeswoman Lee Mi-jin said. 
In doing so, Seoul has struck at what it knows is a tender spot. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set great personal store in a successful Olympics and wants to use the Games as a symbol of hope and recovery after the Fukushima disaster.
Six Olympic softball games and a baseball game will be held in Fukushima, the prefecture’s capital city. The Olympic torch relay will start from there, too.
 
Japan’s government says the fears are groundless, with Foreign Minister Taro Kono saying he had “thoroughly explained” the safety of Japanese foods based on scientific evidence when he met his counterparts from South Korea and China on Wednesday.
Radiation levels in Fukushima city are comparable with safe readings in Hong Kong and Seoul, while Tokyo’s readings are even lower, in line with Paris and London, government data shows. Food from the region is tested intensively for safety.
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Seafood sits in buckets for radiation testing at a lab attached to a fish market in Iwaki, Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, in January.
 
The radiation cloud generated by explosions at the Fukushima reactors spread over thousands of square miles of northern Japan, causing 165,000 people to flee their homes. But officials have been engaged in a massive cleanup since, removing or treating swaths of topsoil to remove radioactive cesium and prevent it from entering vegetation.
Tokyo has stringent limits on the amount of cesium allowed in food, setting a maximum of just one-twelfth the levels permitted in the United States or the European Union. Agriculture and fish testing centers in Fukushima prefecture have analyzed hundreds of thousands of food samples from the danger zone, as well as samples of every ocean catch.
With the exception of a handful of samples of wild mushrooms and freshwater fish, and one skate caught in the ocean in January, none of the samples has exceeded radiation limits in the past three years, officials say. 
Although exports of agriculture, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima have recovered beyond pre-disaster levels, at least 24 countries and territories ban some produce from Fukushima, while Taiwan, South Korea and China maintain a total ban on food from the prefecture.
In April, South Korea won the bulk of an appeal at the World Trade Organization supporting its right to ban and test seafood from Japan, although the judgment was based on WTO rules rather than the levels of contaminants in Japanese food or what the right level of consumer protection should be.
In justifying its move to step up testing, Seoul’s food ministry said trace amounts of radiation were detected in around 20 tons out of more than 200,000 tons of total food imports from Japan over the past five years, although its statement noted levels below even Japan’s strict limit of 100 becquerels a kilogram.
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People shop for fresh seafood at a market in Kanazawa, Japan, in January 2016.
 
South Korea’s qualms about contaminated food at the Olympics fell on deaf ears, according to Japanese media reports, with the organizers saying thorough inspections of Olympic sites had already been carried out and other countries failing to support South Korea’s position.
That’s not to say there are no grounds for concern about a million tons of treated radioactive groundwater stored at the nuclear power plant, environmental groups say.
This month, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, said the tanks at the site would be full by the summer of 2022, as fresh groundwater continues to seep in and become contaminated.
That announcement raised concerns that Tepco may push ahead with a proposal to dilute the treated water and gradually release it into the ocean.
Although many scientists say it is safe to release properly treated water, public trust is low, with Tepco forced to acknowledge last year that the treatment system had so far failed to remove dangerous radioactive elements, including strontium-90.
Local fishermen also oppose releasing the water, arguing such a move would destroy public confidence in marine produce from Fukushima. Japan says no decision has been reached.
Ironically, rice from Fukushima was on the menu at a working lunch during the Group of 20 meeting in Japan in June attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. But Moon left before the rice was served, the presidential office in Seoul said Friday.
Min Joo Kim in Seoul and Akiko Kashiwagi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea concerned over food safety at Olympics with events slated for Fukushima

Talks to take place over food provision at Tokyo Games
Fukushima to host baseball and softball games next year
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The Fukushima Azuma baseball stadium will used during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
August 22, 2019
South Korea is considering making its own arrangements to feed its athletes at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, citing concerns over the safety of food from Fukushima, media reports said.
In addition, South Korean sports authorities have requested that international groups be permitted to monitor radiation levels during the 2020 Games.
Food safety concerns in South Korea have grown since Fukushima city was chosen to host six softball games and one baseball game next summer. Fukushima prefecture will also be the location for the start of the domestic leg of the Olympic torch relay, beginning next March.
Tokyo Olympics organisers said South Korea’s National Olympic Committee had sent a letter expressing concern at the possibility of produce grown in Fukushima prefecture being served to athletes in the Olympic village.
“Nothing is more important than safety. We will seek consultations with the International Olympic Committee and others to secure our athletes’ safety and ensure that the Tokyo Olympics will be held in a safe environment,” the South Korean sports minister, Park Yang-woo, said this week, according to Yonhap news agency.
Seoul’s concerns come amid an escalating dispute with Tokyo over South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese companies to compensate Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories and mines before and during the second world war, when the Korean peninsula was a Japanese colony.
The dispute has affected trade and cultural exchanges, while figures released this week show that the number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan fell by 7.6% year on year last month – its lowest level for almost a year – according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation.
Bloomberg reported that the Korea Sport and Olympic Committee is to request international organisations such as Greenpeace be allowed to monitor radiation levels at Olympic venues.
Committee officials have also drawn up plans to open a separate cafeteria exclusively for South Korean athletes to ensure that they are not served food from the region affected by radioactive fallout from the March 2011 meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The official threshold for radioactive substances in food from Fukushima is much lower than those in other parts of the world, including the European Union and the US.
All food items produced in Fukushima undergo repeated inspections to ensure their safety, according to the prefectural government.
“We are only shipping primary products which are certified to be safe through multiple inspections in each stage with cooperation among municipal and prefectural government, production areas, producers, distributors and retailers,” it says on its website.
Data from the NGO monitoring group Safecast shows that atmospheric radiation levels in Tokyo are lower than those in many other cities.
On Thursday morning, Safecast data showed levels in the Roppongi district of Tokyo stood at 0.084 microsieverts per hour, compared with 0.116 in Suwon, south of Seoul. In Fukushima city, located 45 miles west of the stricken nuclear power plant, atmospheric radiation was recorded at 0.100 microsieverts per hour.
The global average of naturally occurring background radiation is 0.17-0.39 microsieverts per hour, according to the pro-nuclear lobby group the World Nuclear Association.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea express concern about food from Fukushima as Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Seminar begins

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August 20, 2019

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) has written to Tokyo 2020 organisers to express concern about food from Fukushima being served at the Games.

Organisers confirmed to Reuters that a letter on the issue had been sent on the opening day of the Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Seminar.

Fukushima was struck by one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit Japan in 2011, when a devastating earthquake and tsunami caused an accident at a nuclear power plant.

Around 16,000 people lost their lives in the tragedy.

Both Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been keen to promote the Games as a tool which could help with the region’s recovery.

Baseball and softball matches will be staged there and Fukushima prefecture will also host the start of the Japanese leg of the Torch Relay.

Produce from Fukushima has been served at official events, including IOC Coordination Commissions, but the KSOC said they are worried about contamination.

Their letter comes at a period of increasing tension between Japan and South Korea.

“Within our planning framework we will respond to them accordingly,” said Toru Kobayash, Tokyo 2020’s director of NOC services, to Reuters.

“We have said that we will respond to them properly. 

“We have had no further questions [from South Korea].”

A trade war has developed between the two countries with South Korea also angry about reported Japanese plans to dump “toxic” water from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean.

Some voices have even called for a Korean boycott of the Games with the nations further clashing over the appearance of disputed islands on an official Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay map.

The map on the official website includes the Liancourt Rocks, which are governed by South Korea but claimed by Japan.

South Korea calls the islands Dokdo but in Japan they are known as Takeshima, and both countries claim historical ties.

They lie in the Sea of Japan in between the two countries and are valuable due to rich fishing waters and natural gas deposits.

Elsewhere, concerns over sweltering conditions were discussed on day one of the Seminar at the Hotel New Otani.

Rising heat has developed into a major concern before Tokyo 2020 with more than 50 deaths in July as temperatures in Japan approached 40 degrees celsius.

Athletes have also struggled in the weather at the test events, including rowers suffering heatstroke at the World Junior Championships at the Sea Forest Waterway.

The triathlon event was shortened because of the humid conditions while cooling measures were tested at the beach volleyball.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are due to open on July 24 next year.

Among the measures being considered to combat the problem is allowing fans to bring their own bottled water into venues under certain conditions, which had previously been banned at past editions of the Olympic Games due to security and sponsorship reasons.

Misting sprays, air-conditioned tents and special road coatings are other plans put forward by organisers, as well as moving some events to earlier in the day. 

Dutch Chef de Mission Pieter van den Hoogenband, who faced the media on behalf of attending National Olympic Committees (NOCs), said he was impressed with how organisers were handling the issue.

“Of course we know there are some heat issues but overall, for all the different teams, these are the circumstances and we have to deal with it,” the triple Olympic champion said to Reuters.

“Top athletes know that they have to perform in any circumstances.

“Because of the test events, we get a lot of information and a lot of data and the way the Organising Committee is taking all that data to make it even more perfect…

“I was impressed with the way they handled things.”

Organisers have also pledged to install triple-layer screens in Tokyo Bay to combat bacteria in the water.

It comes after the discovery of E.coli which forced the cancellation of the swimming leg at the Paratriathlon test event.

The three-day Seminar continues tomorrow with every NOC invited to attend.

Representatives from the IOC and the Association of National Olympic Committees are also present.

A full progress update has been promised as well as a venue tour. 

https://www.insidethegames.biz/index.php/articles/1083697/fukushima-food-tokyo-2020

August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Controversy over radiation and heat surrounding Tokyo Olympics

156577137108_20190815.JPGAnti-nuclear demonstrators concerned about radiation during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics hold a press conference to criticize the Abe administration’s effort to push through the Olympics despite safety concerns in front of the former Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Aug. 13.

 

 

Aug.14,2019

Sports are sports. They are separate from politics.”

On Aug. 13, an official from the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee expressed concern in response to remarks in political circles that hinted at a boycott of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (July 24 – August 9). With participation rights still to be earned in many disciplines and numerous athletes who have eagerly awaited the Olympics for four years, these remarks are looking too far ahead. It has been pointed out that a more strategic approach needs to be adopted in light of the position of North and South Korea, who are considering making a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics.

Safety from radiation and heat at the Tokyo Olympics

Most of the issues related to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which are now only a year away, boil down to safety concerns over radiation and extreme heat. Some baseball and softball matches are scheduled to be held in a stadium located close to the Fukushima nuclear reactor that took direct damage during the 2011 earthquake. Korean civic groups have also pointed out that the Japanese government has failed to properly control water contaminated by radiation from the reactor. Plans to source some of the rice and ingredients for the Tokyo Olympics Athletes Village from Fukushima are adding to these concerns. Although the level of radiation measured in such rice is within the acceptable standards in Japan, it is believed to exceed Korean standards.

Extreme heat is another potential issue. After an open water test competition in Odaiba Seaside Park, Tokyo, on Aug. 11, Sports Nippon reported, “Many athletes complained about a foul odor and the high water temperature, and one male athlete made the shocking claim that it ‘smelled like a toilet.’” Although the Olympic Committee did not reveal the water temperature on that day, it has been reported that the temperature was 29.9 degrees Celsius at 5am. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) cancels events if the water temperature reaches 31 degrees Celsius. There have also been warnings about road races. On August 8, Yusuke Suzuki, Japan’s star race-walker and world record holder in the men’s 20km, stated, “I tried training on the Tokyo Olympics race-walking course. There was no shade, so it could cause dehydration.”

Tokyo Olympics delegation heads meeting from Aug. 20-22

It appears that the issue of safety from radiation and concerns about food ingredients will be conveyed during the upcoming three-day meeting with the leaders of each country’s delegation in Tokyo on Aug. 20-22, and a request will be made to the Japanese Olympic Committee to change the name of Dokdo used on maps. If the representatives from each country do raise the radiation issue, the IOC will have no choice but to intervene. The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee is also considering providing separate Korean food to Korean athletes through specially prepared meals or lunchboxes.

With Korea seeking to hold a joint Olympics in 2032 between the two Koreas, the country has no choice but to underscore the fact that the Olympics are a festival of peace. Korea is also mindful of the fact that it must avoid giving off any impression of trying to use the Olympics for political reasons.

Getting over our obsession with medals

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics come at a time when Korea is attempting to implement reforms through policies in order to shake off the country’s obsession with winning in elite sports. Plans to reform the special benefits afforded to athletes such as pensions and exemption from military service are already under discussion, and it is also true that the morale of elite athletes is different than it has been in the past. It has been pointed out that while achieving victory in competition is great, excessive competition for medals does not align with current trends. Ryu Tae-ho, a professor of physical education at Korea University, stated, “It is natural that athletes will work hard to reach the pinnacle on the international stage, and the Korean public has become more mature to the extent that we can applaud athletes when they do their best as Olympians, even if they fail to win a medal. It is also best to avoid connecting sports with politics.”

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/905758.html

August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Swim marathon: Tokyo 2020, FINA watching water quality, temperature

In 2011, Professor Kodama of Tokyo University  had found Tokyo’s Bay water to be  radiation contaminated. 8 years later I doubt that the only danger in that water is high levels of e-coli bacteria…
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August 11, 2019
Athletes voiced concerns over water quality and temperature at a marathon swimming test event for Tokyo 2020 Sunday, as officials vowed to monitor the situation closely in the run-up to the games.
“That was the warmest race I’ve ever done,” said three-time Olympic medallist Oussama Mellouli from Tunisia after completing the 5km men’s competition.
“It felt good for the first 2km then I got super overheated,” added the 35-year-old, who won gold in the 10km swim at the London Olympics in 2012.
The event started at 7am with the air temperature already over 30 degrees as the Japanese capital swelters through a deadly heatwave.
“The water temperature was high so I’m a bit concerned about that,” said Yumi Kida from Japan, who said she guzzled iced water before the race in an effort to reduce her body heat.
International Swimming Federation (FINA) rules state that athletes may not race when the water temperature exceeds 31 degrees and FINA’s executive director Cornel Marculescu said competitors’ wellbeing was top priority.
Marculescu said an external body would be set up in conjunction with Tokyo 2020 organisers to monitor both water quality and temperature in the run-up to the games and the results could affect the timing of the marathon swimming event.
“Based on this information, we will decide the time the event will start. Could be 5am, could be 5:30am, can be 6am, can be 6:30am — depends on the water temperature,” he told reporters.
“Working with a specialised company like we are going to do here in Tokyo, we will have the right information to take the right decision.”
Hot weather issues have become the biggest headache for Tokyo organisers, who have already moved up the start time of several events including the marathon in a bid to mitigate the effects of the blistering heat of the Japanese summer.
– ‘A little stinky’ –
In terms of water quality, David Gerrard from FINA’s medical committee said readings from the test event would not be ready for 48 hours but previous results gave cause for optimism.
“What we have had are readings fom the last month, daily readings that have given us very clear indications of the water quality, which has been good,” he said.
Organisers are desperate to avoid the embarrassment of the Rio Olympics in 2016 when the pool used for diving events turned an unsettling shade of green overnight.
Brazilian officials also had to scramble to clean up the bay used for sailing and windsurfing that was plagued by sewer bacteria and filthy with rubbish.
In October 2017, Tokyo 2020 organisers were left red-faced after tests revealed levels of e-coli bacteria more than 20 times higher than international standards, sparking doubts about the venue’s safety.
At the time, the organising committee blamed prolonged summer rain that had brought pollutants from offshore for the high readings between late July and early September.
A year later, organisers said that tests using underwater “screens” to filter the water had successfully reduced bacteria levels at the venue, which will also host triathlon.
They tested single and triple-layer screens — some 20 metres (66 feet) long and three metres wide — and found that both were effective in bringing bacteria down to safe levels although the triple screen, expected to be employed during games time, worked best.
Japanese swimmer Kida said the water was “a little stinky, and the clarity was not very good so I really want to improve the quality.”
The event will be held in Odaiba, a Tokyo bay area with a backdrop of the city and the “Rainbow Bridge” that links the area to downtown.
On clear days Mount Fuji is visible and the area is also noteworthy for a replica Statue of Liberty.

August 12, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s govt urges Fukushima evacuees to return – in drive to promote 2020 Olympics

Fukushima: Despite health threats, the Japanese government urges residents to return. Families who fled nuclear meltdown in Fukushima are being urged to return to their homes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
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Families claim the government is speeding up return ahead of Olympics
Aug 4, 2019
Alarming levels of radiation up to 20 times higher than official safety targets have been recorded in areas where locals are being encouraged to go back. We found ghost towns eight years after three reactors went into meltdown at Daiichi power plant 140 miles north east of Tokyo in March 2011. Tokyo 2020 is being hailed as the “Reconstruction Olympics” signalling new hope following the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster and left more than 18,000 people dead. 
Now evacuees are being urged to return as the global spotlight focuses on the recovery of the region. The government has lifted most evacuation orders and all but a handful of hot spots have been declared safe. 
But parents believe their children are in danger, saying officials are downplaying the dangers and safety is compromised in a cynical attempt to convince the world the crisis is over. 
Families have accused the government of speeding up their return to showcase safety standards ahead of the Olympics. 
We found once-vibrant communities now post apocalyptic wastelands like something from a Hollywood movie after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. 
Schools, shopping malls, supermarkets, libraries and petrol stations lie decaying along with thousands of homes. Many are set behind guarded barricades in exclusion areas known officially as “difficult to return to zones”. 
Others lie in areas which the government says are safe to live in but whose few residents – wild boar and monkeys – demonstrate signs of mutation. Along roadsides sit giant black bags containing contaminated soil. 
In Tomioka, five miles from the power plant, a school sports hall is scattered with footballs left when children fled. 
It’s in stark contrast to arenas being built for the £20billion Games. Fukushima is hosting the first event, a softball match on July 22, two days before the opening ceremony. 
The Japanese leg of the torch relay starts on March 26 at a soccer training centre 12 miles south of the crippled plant. The J Village, a base for emergency workers, only fully reopened last month. 
In Okuma our Geiger counter sounded furiously, recording four microsieverts an hour. The government safety target is 0.23 microsieverts per hour. 
It came days after evacuation orders were lifted for parts of the town which had 10,000 residents. The centre remains a no-go zone and just 367 former residents have registered to go back. 
Ayako Oga, 46, who suffered a miscarriage, says: “The Olympics are putting lives in danger. The government is forcing people to leave the public homes they have been in. They are putting a heavy burden on people still suffering mentally and financially.” 
In Namie, which had 21,000 residents, evacuation orders were lifted in 2017. It is said 800 people returned but we found desolation, only traffic lights working. 
The Wild Boar bar last served a drink on disaster day. Owner Sumio Konno, in a group legal action against the government, says his son, who was five, still suffers nosebleeds. “He is sick all the time,” he says. “Every month he needs to go to the doctor.” 
Ryohei Kataoka, of the Citizens Nuclear Information Centre, says: “The government’s insistence in lifting evacuation orders where heightened radiation-related health risks undeniably exist, is a campaign to show that Fukushima is ‘back to normal’ and to try to make Japan and the world forget the accident ever happened.” 

August 12, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 2020 Olympics Nightmare: Is PM Abe Criminally Insane?

 

Jul 28th, 2019
This documentary investigates and exposes the plans of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring the Olympics baseball games to contaminated Fukushima. Although there is over a million tons of tritium radioactive water in tanks surrounding the plan, thousands of contamined bags of waste and melted nuclear rods still in the broken plants Abe has claimed to the Olympic Committee and world that Fukushima has been decontaminated.
This 2019 documentary looks at the plans of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring the Olympic baseball games to Fukushima during the 2020 Japan Olympic games. It interviews experts, community activists and trade unionists about the reality of Fukushima and the massive propaganda campaign to cover-up the continuing dangers and crisis.
 
PM Abe told the International Olympics Committee that Fukushima had been decontaminated but there is over 1 million tons of tritium radiocative water in tanks surrounding the broken nuclear reactors, the melted nuclear rods still remain and there are tens of thousands of bags of contaminated radioactive material spread throughout the prefecture.
 
This documentary hears from people in Japan about the reality of having the 2020 Olympics in Japan and Fukushima.
 
Additional media:
 
Toxic water level at Fukushima plant still not under control As Abe Pushes Olympics In Fukushima
In reality, however, the situation is not under control even now.
 
The Olympics, Fukushima, Capitalism & Creative Destruction
 
Olympics For Whom? Global Depression, the New Cold War, ​and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games
 
The Super Bowl, NFL, Capitalism and Sports: The Cost, The Politics, Privatization & The Game
JPN Abe Gov Pushes 2020 Olympics To Contaminated Fukushima To Continue Cover-up
 
Fukushima Never Again
 
For additional information:
No Nukes Action
Appeal To Stop Olympics in Japan
Nuclear Olympics
WorkWeek
workweek [at] kpfa.org
Production of
Labor Video Project
 
Fukushima Radioactive Dump Site
While PM Abe says that Fukushima has been “decontaminated” there are thousands of bags of contaminated radioactive was in the prefecture of Fukushima.
 
Over 1 Million Tons Of Radioactive Water Surround Fukushima
The Abe government is trying to release 1 million tons of radioactive water with tritium into the Pacific ocean despite opposition of the fisherman and communities.
 
Fukushima Kids In

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Fukushima Safe for the Olympics?

A recent visit suggests that the repercussions of the 2011 nuclear disaster aren’t over.
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The New National Stadium at sunset, Tokyo
July 25, 2019
The 2020 Olympic torch relay will commence in Fukushima: a place more often associated with a 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster than international sports. That’s no accident: the location is meant to convey a narrative of recovery, and the idea that Fukushima is a safe place to visit, live–and of course, do business. Olympic baseball and softball games, also to be held in Fukushima just 55 miles from the meltdown, are meant to hammer the message of these “Recovery Olympics,” as Tokyo 2020 organizers have branded them, home
But after a visit to Fukushima, their claims seem questionable at best. In fact, the entire setup is a profoundly cynical act of “post-truth” politics. Fukushima is not yet safe, and no amount of sunny rhetoric from Olympic bigwigs as well as Japanese politicians, can make it so.
We traveled to Fukushima on a bus full of journalists, filmmakers, and activists from around the world. We were accompanied by professor Fujita Yasumoto who carried a dosimeter, a device that charts the levels of radiation. With two hours to drive before hitting Fukushima, his dosimeter read 0.04; anything above 0.23, he told us, was unsafe. The needle jumped further as we approached the nuclear plants and attendant cleanup operations. Outside the Decommissioning Archive Center, it moved into unsafe territory with a 0.46 reading before spiking to a truly alarming 3.77 as we approached Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor, one of three that melted down. The Olympic torch run is currently scheduled to pass through some of these high-contamination areas.
As we entered Fukushima, we started to see what looked like black Hefty garbage bags, filled with radioactive topsoil that had been scraped up by workers, most of whom, we are told, travel great distances to Fukushima to work. Thousands of these bags—which locals call “black pyramids”—are piled on top of one another, but the toiling workers aren’t wearing hazmat suits. Some of the piles of bags have vegetation popping out. The sight of the plants poking through the toxic muck could be taken as a sign of hope, but, for others, they’re a portent of danger, raising fears that the wind will blow the most contaminated parts of the topsoil into the less radiated parts of the city.
No one here we met is buying Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s line from 2013 when he tried to assuage the concerns of voters at the International Olympic Committee by telling them that things in Fukushima were “under control.” Hiroko Aihara, an independent journalist based in Fukushima, said to us, “The government has pushed propaganda over truth. This has people in Japan divided as to how serious it is. But for the people who live here, the crisis and the cleanup and contamination continue.”
The scientific studies about how safe Fukishima are at the moment are in great dispute. National travel guides put the area that is unsafe at only 3 percent of the prefecture. However, as Scientific American wrote, “In its haste to address the emergency, two months after the accident the Japanese government raised the allowable exposure from 1 mSv annually, an international benchmark, to 20 mSv. Evacuees now fear Abe’s determination to put the Daiichi accident behind the nation is jeopardizing public health, especially among children, who are more susceptible.”
We also spoke with Masumi Kowata. She is a remarkable individual, and the only woman on the 12-person Okuma Town municipal council in Fukushima. She is also the only person on the council who is speaking out on the dangers of nuclear power. Kawata was living in Fukushima when Abe made his grand pronouncement. She said, “Things were absolutely not ‘under control’ and nothing is over yet. The nuclear radiation is still very high. Only one small section is being cleaned. The wider region is still an evacuation zone. There is still radiation in the area. Meanwhile, we’re [hosting] the Olympics.”
The cynicism of branding this “the Recovery Olympics” can also be seen in the streets of Fukushima. Numerous people are still displaced and living outside the prefecture; they’re in the tens of thousands, although the exact total has not been determined. Whatever the number, there is no question that the part of the prefecture surrounding the nuclear meltdown feels empty. In a country with a remarkable lack of dilapidated buildings, they conspicuously blot the landscape in Fukushima. What was destroyed by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown hasn’t been rebuilt. Many businesses also have been “abandoned by owner,” an all-purpose explanation for the state of things. Both homes and businesses—with the crumbling signs for the titans of Japanese corporate culture—Sony, Mitsubishi and Honda—sit vacant.
Despite this bleak scene, Kowata somehow brims with fighting energy. “The local people have come to me and told me to tell the world what is actually happening,” she said. “That’s where I get my strength. There are people getting sick. There are people who are dying from stress. The world needs to know.”

July 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Opponents want Olympic money used to rebuild Fukushima

What sense does it make to rebuild Fukushima if it means to condamn the people to live with radiation, radiation which ain’t gonna be decontaminated by any means but is there to stay.…
To not forget that the first step of the Japanese government deceitful campaign was DECONTAMINATION, to fool the people to believe that their place could be decontaminated so that they could go back to their life of the pre-nuclear disaster.
The second part of the Japanese government deceitful campaign was RECONSTRUCTION, that people need to help to reconstruct the Fukushima economy, to clean the name of Fukushima prefecture in the mind of the Japanese public and of the foreign public, to push and sell the local contaminated produce under the pretense that low level of contamination is safe and acceptable, that to buy and consume Fukushima is every Japanese citizen’s patriotic duty, solidarity, to help rebuild the Fukushima prefecture’s economy.
DECONTAMINATION and RECONSTRUCTION are both parts of the same deceitful campaign, a campaign denying the realaity of the omnipresent radiation’s health risks, soothing the people’s fears with lies and denial, to make them to accept and to stay living with high level of radiation in a fully contaminated environment. The Japanese government’s priority being the economics and not its people safety and health.
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Anti-Olympic advocates, including those from the United States and France, gather in Tokyo on July 23.
July 24, 2019
A group of Japanese and foreigners who oppose the Tokyo Olympics said they want to block the holding of the sporting extravaganza they see as wasteful and destructive.
In a news conference in Tokyo on July 23, the opponents, including scholars, said that the Olympics will destroy the local economy and be a hotbed for corruption.
The opponents included Jules Boykoff, professor of political science at Pacific University, Oregon, who was formerly on the U.S. Olympic soccer team.
On July 22, they visited Fukushima Prefecture, hit hard by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident.
Based on the inspection, they said that the Japanese government should use money for reconstruction efforts rather than the Olympics.
The opponents also included Misako Ichimura, 48, a member of “Hangorin no Kai” (Anti-Olympics group).
She said that homeless people were evicted for the construction of the new National Stadium and that people living in Tokyo metropolitan government-run apartments were forced to vacate them.
Ichimura raised an “anti-Olympic torch” that had been passed down by people campaigning against the Olympics.
“We want to terminate the Olympics,” she said.
A woman from Los Angeles, which will host the 2028 Summer Olympics, said the Olympics benefit a small number of major companies that receive money that should be used to support the homeless.
South Korean Park Eun-seon, who was watching the news conference, said that after the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the business environment for local restaurants and hotels there deteriorated.
“I want Japanese to share our experiences. I want them not to repeat the same mistakes,” she said.
Hangorin no Kai plans to hold a demonstration with others in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on July 24 as part of its international events to oppose the Olympics.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment