South Korea’s move to feed its Olympic athletes stirs controversy

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The move by South Korea to feed its athletes during the Tokyo Olympics is causing controversy, as the move is seen as casting suspicions that the food Japan will be offering to Olympians has ingredients from Fukushima.

The report comes after Yomiuri Shimbun said Saturday that the Korean committee “claimed that there is a risk of radioactive contamination” from eating food sourced from Fukushima Prefecture. An earthquake and a nuclear disaster hit the region in 2011.

An official from the prefecture told Sports Hochi that there are “no problems” with food from Fukushima.

“The shipments were confirmed to be safe, and there are no problems,” the source said, according to the report.

The South Korean team has historically flown in food from the homeland to the Olympic games. In 1996, South Korea shipped at least 2 tons of kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage dish, to Atlanta to feed its Olympians.

This time, South Korea could be sending 14 chefs to Japan to cook 420 meals daily for its team, the Japan Times reported. The food staff for Korean Olympians could include as many as 20 people when including nutritionists, according to South Korean news service News 1.

The South Korean decision has drawn outcry in Japan.

Masahisa Sato, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told the Yomiuri that South Korea’s decision “tramples the hearts of Fukushima residents.” Japanese social media users also decried the move.

Representatives from other countries say they are not worried about food sourced from Fukushima.

Kyodo News reported Sunday the Australian team’s chief medical officer, David Hughes, confirmed his team “definitely feels it’s safe to eat” ingredients from the Japanese region.

The Summer Olympics begins Friday.

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