BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Three days before the vote to choose the host of the 2020 Olympics, bid officials for Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid were forced to fend off criticism about various aspects of their bids.
All three cities present liabilities and IOC members voting Saturday may settle for the place with the fewest question marks. Tokyo is expected to be a slight favorite, but the race is considered too close to call.
Tokyo tried to deflect concerns about a leak of radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in northern Japan.
Tokyo bid leader Tsunekazu Takeda said the water and food in Tokyo are as safe as they are in New York, Paris, London or Buenos Aires.
“The radiation level in Tokyo is the same as London, New York and Paris,” said Takeda, an IOC member and president of the Japanese Olympic committee. “It’s absolutely safe, 35 million people living there in very normal conditions. We have no worries.”
Five of the seven questions for Takeda in a news conference dealt with the Fukushima leak.
Takeda answered all but one question in English, switching to Japanese near the end to add emphasis.
“Not one person has been affected by the radiation issue,” he said through a translator. “Fukushima and Tokyo are 150 miles apart. Since we are quite remote you don’t need to be concerned about this issue.”
Tokyo calls its bid “a pair of safe hands,” emphasizing Japanese technology and its ability to deliver on time. This could attract IOC members who are worried about delays in building venues for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Controversy has also surrounded the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Tokyo scored the highest in the IOC’s technical report, but IOC members often vote along regional, political or friendship lines that have little to do with logistic or engineering appraisals.
Tokyo’s presentation included a demonstration of the country’s technology in robotics, featuring a robot named Mirata who simulated fencing with two-time Olympic silver-medalist Yuki Ota.
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