BUENOS AIRES Tokyo's Olympic bid chief on Wednesday played down fears the Fukushima water crisis could dent the city's gambit to host the 2020 Summer Games, saying the Japanese capital is as safe as London, New York City and Paris.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on Saturday in Buenos Aires to decide whether Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo will be awarded the world's biggest and most expensive multi-event sporting extravaganza.
Japanese officials have been eager to show the spread of irradiated water is under control, even as radiation levels at parts of the Fukushima nuclear plant have spiked to record highs.
"Right now Tokyo's radiation level is comparable to London, Paris and New York and here as well," said bid leader Tsunekazu Takeda in Buenos Aires, making the case for the city alongside the honorary chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., Fujio Cho.
"It's absolutely safe," said Takeda, adding he had written a letter to IOC members to stress radiation wasn't a threat to Tokyo, located some 230 km (140 miles) from the stricken plant.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has helped lead the campaign to host the Games, is due to fly in to the Argentine capital ahead of the high-stakes vote.
Japan's government is in touch with experts in the United States and elsewhere on ways to control the Fukushima crisis, trade and economics minister Toshimitsu Motegi told Reuters earlier on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Ossian Shine)