SYDNEY, Australia — Olympic champions Jan Frodeno and Emma Snowsill believe the International Triathlon Union should cancel the world championship series race in Yokohama, Japan next month.
Yokohama is 300 kilometres south of the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor, where millions of litres of radioactive water have leaked into the ocean.
The athletes are scheduled to swim 1.5 kilometres in Yokohama Harbour to start the race, which is an Olympic qualifying event.
Snowsill, the 2008 Beijing Olympic champion from Australia, and Frodeno, the men’s winner from Germany, have said they will not compete in Japan.
The first round of the ITU series is in Sydney on Sunday, when the sport’s elite athletes will compete in the swim, a 40-kilometre cycle and a 10-kilometre run.
Frodeno said the ITU was wrong to force its athletes to choose between risking their health and earning valuable Olympic qualification points.
“I don’t think it’s right for the ITU to take that sort of decision for the athletes,” he told The Australian newspaper in comments published on Friday.
“As much as I like racing in Japan, I don’t think it’s right to go there next month. Tourism organizations all around the world are advising people not to go there now.
“The day I got the e-mail saying the race was going ahead, I saw news reports that said the Japanese were dumping 11.5 million litres of radioactive water into the ocean 300 kilometres up the road. That didn’t strike me as safe.”
Frodeno said that most other athletes were concerned about the health risk of competing at Yokohama.
“Except for very few, everyone feels the same,” he said. “It’s just not right to put your health at risk for Olympic qualifying.”