Games can boost Fukushima youth: Tokyo bid director
Former athlete and chairwoman of Tokyo 2020 athlete's commission, Yuko Arakida (3rd R) looks on during a press conference of Japanese Olympic medallists and former athletes to promote Tokyo for 2020 Olympic games on September 5, 2013 in Buenos Aires.
The Tokyo bid has suffered in recent days from a constant stream of worrying stories about the state of the Fukushima nuclear power plant - which was crippled in the tusnami and earthquake.
On Thursday it was revealed for the first time by the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) that highly radioactive water leaking from a storage tank at Japan's may have seeped into groundwater flowing towards the Pacific Ocean.
That news comes at an especially delicate time for the Tokyo bid who will find out on Saturday in Buenos Aires whether they Madrid or Istanbul have won the right to host the Games when the International Olympic Committee members vote.
Arakida, who was accompanied to the press conference by 15 Japanese Olympians and Paralympians, said she hoped the problems would be resolved in a situation that has got increasingly worse since the tsunami and earthquake left over 18,000 people dead.
"Needless to say we want this problem to be solved as quickly as possible," she said.
"We convey our thoughts to the people of Fukushima but we hope that by hosting the Games it will bring inspiration and solace to the children of the area."
Many sports stars were taken to the region after the disaster and helped with the clearing up process as well as trying to rebuild morale.
Japanese International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and bid chief Tsunekazu Takeda recalled earlier this year how when they arrived the children were crying with grief, but they were smiling when they departed - albeit still crying but from fatigue - having been distracted by playing sports with some of their heroes.
Three-time Paralympian Mami Sato said for her it was particularly moving to have seen the way people and especially sports people had reacted to the disaster.
"I come from the north-east of Japan (the region where the tsunami struck) and in my opinion this has brought people together from across Japan," said Sato.
"We have already seen how athletes have played a role in the recovery efforts and I am very happy to see that.
"There is seven years to go to the Games and a lot of opportunity to continue the work."
Hiroshi Hase, who competed in greco-roman wrestling in the 1984 Olympics, a member of the House of Representatives was adamant the situation was under control at Fukushima thanks to the intervention of the government.
"After the earthquake we established a law to deal with the disposal of debris and the water," he said.
"There was an announcement agreed with The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) surrounding the disposal of debris and contaminated water. The Japanese Government has already set aside 46billion yen ($460 million) to treat the contaminated water and debris.
"There is no danger to our health and there is no issue regarding radiation.
"I would like to reiterate that the Government will be responsible for the clean-up."
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