Execs keep gymnastics worlds in Tokyo

Updated: May 23, 2011, 6:55 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- With more than two months to let emotions settle and plenty of information from experts to satisfy any safety concerns, gymnastics officials said it was an easy decision to keep the world championships in Tokyo as originally planned.

The International Gymnastics Federation decided Sunday there was no reason to move worlds, the main qualifier for the 2012 Olympics in London, despite earlier concerns about high radiation levels following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"We wanted to take the time to make sure the final decision was correct," FIG President Bruno Grandi said Monday. "We did not want to make the decision on an emotional basis."

Grandi said the organization consulted with experts from the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee and also heard directly from a delegation from Japan at its meetings in San Jose over the weekend before making the decision to keep the event at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium from Oct. 7-16.

The key factors in keeping the championships in Tokyo were the fact that no countries have travel bans to Japan and that officials said there is no danger of high levels of radiation beyond an approximately 20-mile radius around the damaged nuclear power plant outside Fukushima. With Tokyo being about 150 miles south of the Fukushima, safety was not a concern.

"It was an easy decision, it was the correct decision," Grandi said.

Figure skating moved its world championships out of Tokyo after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March, and the FIG had expressed concern about the high radiation levels. Russia had offered to host the event if it was moved out of Japan.

In the other big news to come out of the meeting, the FIG awarded the 2013 world championships to Antwerp, Belgium, and the 2015 championships to Glasgow, Scotland. Glasgow beat out bids from Orlando, Fla., and Paris for the event, which will be the main qualifier for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Grandi said the decision to award the championships to Scotland instead of bringing them back to the Americas for the first time since they were in Anaheim, Calif., in 2003 was mostly about economics.

"The people look at how much money is spent to participate. Glasgow paid for about everything," Grandi said. "I believe it's one beautiful, fantastic offer from Glasgow. I believe it is the best."

FIG secretary general Andre Gueisbuhler said Glasgow was helped by having more government support than the bid from Orlando, which was privately backed. He also said he had little concern that the last four world championships have been held in Europe.

"It's not like the Olympic games where it seems to be the tradition that it moves," he said. "We're very open to going with the best bid."

Also, council member Gao Jian from China resigned for health reasons. A replacement will be elected next year.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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