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Tokyo confirmed as host for Gymnastics Worlds

23 may 2011, 18:54
©RIA Novosti
©RIA Novosti
Japan has welcomed a major step in its comeback as a global sporting centre after the March 11 quake and tsunami as Tokyo was confirmed host of the world gymnastics championships as scheduled, AFP reports.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said that its council had ruled out any reason to change plans to stage the event October 7-16 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

The decision was made at the council's meeting on Sunday in San Jose, California, the FIG said on its website, reversing a trend of world-class events being disrupted after the double disasters set off a nuclear crisis.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, visiting Tokyo on Monday, was expected to announce that Japan is safe to host the Club World Cup in December as scheduled.

The world figure skating championships were moved from Tokyo to Moscow and postponed by one month to late April as the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continued leaking radiation into the air, sea and ground.

"We feel relieved," Japan Gymnastic Association president Hidenori Futagi told Japanese media in San Jose.

"We are grateful that the FIG executive had made a decision on the basis of scientific reasoning without getting swayed by emotion," said Futagi, who used data to argue that Tokyo, 220 kilometres (140 miles) from Fukushima, is safe.

Citing safety concerns, Russia and a few other countries had reportedly sought to replace Japan as the hosts of the gymnastics worlds, which will serve as the main qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics.

FIG president Bruno Grandi explained "FIG authorities have given utmost consideration to the health of its gymnasts and delegations travelling to Tokyo", according to the website.

"The decision to maintain the Tokyo venue is founded on an evaluation of the current situation conducted by competent professionals in the field, and their subsequent conclusions," it added.

FIG vice president Koji Takizawa of Japan said he hoped that the FIG decision would become "one step toward stopping damage resulting from false information in sports circles," according to Kyodo news agency.

The catastrophe, which caused electric power shortages in eastern Japan, delayed the start of the hugely popular professional baseball season by three weeks and has suspended five rounds of matches in the football J-League.

Football international friendlies in Japan against Montenegro and New Zealand in March were cancelled.

The May 14-15 Yokohama leg of the triathlon world championship series was postponed over health and safety concerns.

Rugby union's world governing body has moved five of the six Pacific Nations Cup matches in July from Japan to Fiji.

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