Japan will host the 2020 Olympics
François Péladeau

A country struggling to cope with an ongoing nuclear disaster might not seem the obvious choice to host the Olympics.

But Japan on Sunday was awarded the right to host the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

How did Japan’s leaders win the support of the notoriously corrupt International Olympic Committee? In part by playing down the seriousness of the Fukushima disaster’s lingering effects. From The Guardian on Friday:

Hiroshi Hase, an MP and former Olympic wrestler, told reporters in the Argentinian capital that contamination from Fukushima was “not even an issue” for the health of people in Tokyo, located 150 miles south of Fukushima Daiichi.

With the IOC decision imminent, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s nuclear regulation authority, criticised Tepco for inflating fears around the world by releasing misleading data about the water leaks. …

Tanaka said reports that the water leaks represented another catastrophe at the plant had been overblown, adding that the quantity of radiation leaking into the Pacific Ocean would have “no meaningful effect” on the environment.

From wire reports published in The Japan Times on Saturday:

Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, at his final news conference before the selection of the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics, blasted media coverage of the Fukushima nuclear crisis and said people should not believe scare stories. …

“So much rumor has been conveyed by the media.” …

The government whitewashing was not appreciated by Japanese citizens whose lives have been upturned by the nuclear meltdown and ensuing troubles:

Residents in Fukushima Prefecture have reacted angrily to remarks by Tokyo’s Olympic bid chief in the city’s final pitch to host the 2020 Games, saying he made light of their plight.