The Olympics is Not a Venue to Whitewash the Risk of Nuclear Disasters

Aug 12, 2019

Statement from Korea Federation for Environmental Movements

Recently, the media reported that a mountain of radioactive soil was being dumped next to the Fukushima baseball stadium. There are also reports of higher levels of radioactive material detected in a park in Tokyo, far from Fukushima. Concerns persist over the safety of the Tokyo Olympics and radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

This concern arises from the decision of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to supply Fukushima agricultural and marine products to the Athlete’s Village. The government should be putting in place greater safety measures, but instead it is simply focusing on promoting the supposed safety of Fukushima agricultural and marine products. Radioactive elements continue to be detected in Fukushima products.

The Citizens’ Radiation Monitoring Center and the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, analyzed reports from 2018from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and found that radioactive cesium was detected in 18.1% of Japanese agricultural products, 7% of marine products, and 44.6% of wild meat. In particular, wild boar was found to have levels of cesium of 5200 becquerel per kilogram, 52 times Japan’s set limit; Angelica shoots 780 Bq/kg; ferns 430 Bq/kg; and bamboo shoots up to 430 Bq/kg.

For Fukushima rice it is still too early to declare it safe. The Japanese government says it is safe, arguing that no rice has exceeded radiation safety limits since August 2015. However, most tests of Fukushima rice have been simple tests with low accuracy that struggle to detect trace amounts of radioactive material. The use of such tests further raises skepticism over safety.

Concerns about radiation safety at the Tokyo Olympics go beyond just food. The Tokyo Olympic torch relay will start 20km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Six events, including the opening game and softball, will be held at the Fukushima Baseball Stadium, which is 70km from the plant. Cedar and cypress trees from Fukushima will be used as construction material for the Olympic Village Plaza. With events held in Fukushima, players and visitors cannot help but worry.

The Tokyo Olympics’ Organizing Committee should scrap its plans to use agricultural and marine products from Fukushima. Fukushima does not become safe, simply by promoting it as such. This public relations campaign risks undermining confidence in athletes’ safety, at a time when they should be focusing on achieving their best.

The International Olympic Committee must call on the Tokyo Organizing Committee to cancel its plans to supply food from Fukushima.

The Olympics should not be a forum for concealing the risks created by the Fukushima disaster. Rather than obfuscate the risks of radioactive contamination, the Japanese government should work to transparently communicate the current reality.

For more information contact Choony Kim, KFEM (FOE_Korea)
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