BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Saturday that radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant were under control and did not pose any health risks.
Speaking to the IOC before Saturday’s vote to decide the 2020 host city, Abe wasted no time addressing the major issue that has raised doubts about Tokyo’s chances of staging the world’s biggest multi-sports event.
“Let me assure you the situation is under control,” Abe said. “It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”
Tokyo, along with Madrid and Istanbul, is bidding to stage the 2020 Olympics. The IOC will vote later on Saturday to decide the winner after each city presents its case.
Tokyo was the second city to address the IOC membership, following Istanbul.
The Japanese capital was considered the favorite but rising radiation leaks from the crippled Fukushima plant has set off alarm bells.
The Japanese bid team sent a letter to all IOC members trying to allay their fears and Abe provided his own assurances when he spoke during a 45-minute presentation.
“I explained about the safety of Tokyo. There were some misunderstandings but I explained the situation. I strongly believe that Tokyo’s enthusiasm was conveyed to members,” Abe later told reporters.
“I explained about the water contamination in Fukushima and explained that the contaminated water was blocked.
“Yes please come to Japan. You can be assured.”
Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964 and the bid team said they had a proven record of successfully staging major events.
During a slick presentation, they highlighted the country’s strong economy, a reliable partner for the IOC and an enduring commitment to sport.
“Choose Tokyo today and you choose a nation that is passionate, proud and a strong believer in the Olympic movement and one which wants to work with the IOC to make the word a better place through sport,” Abe said.
Editing by John Mehaffey