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Fukushima Facility to Become Soccer Training Camp for 2020 Olympics via Bloomberg

The base for the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear plant will be returned by March to its original use: the training camp for the Japanese national soccer team.

In a symbolic step in the struggle to contain one of the worst nuclear disasters, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. will return the J-Village facility — about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the crippled Dai-Ichi plant and just 7 kilometers from the current exclusion zone — to the prefectural government during the current fiscal year, company spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi said Tuesday. It’s also a boon for soccer players who will use the complex as their training base for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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The hand-over is a shot in the arm for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has vowed the nuclear disaster will not impede the nation’s plans to host the 2020 Games. In September, the premier said the situation at Fukushima is “under control” and that there doesn’t need to be a review of measures to prevent contamination.

“This promised handover of J-village would serve as a symbol of progress,” Daniel Aldrich, professor and director of the security and resilience studies program at Northeastern University in Boston, said by e-mail.

“Tepco clearly hopes that this will show the nation that it is on track in the Fukushima accident clean up process,” Aldrich said. “However, a number of obstacles, including expanding costs for decommissioning, a lack of physical control over the contaminated groundwater at the site, and complaints about the decontamination process nearby will no doubt hinder the process.”

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