Afraid that its athletes may eat contaminated ingredients from Fukushima, South Korea created its own Olympic food program. Japan is not impressed.

Afraid that its athletes may eat contaminated ingredients from Fukushima, South Korea created its own Olympic food program. Japan is not impressed.
·2 min read
South Korea Olympic village
Flags of South Korea hanging on residential buildings in the athletes' village for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Toru Hanai/Getty Image
  • South Korea has a separate food program for its athletes and delegates at the Tokyo Olympics.

  • The country is worried that its athletes will be fed contaminated food grown in Fukushima prefecture, which was hit with a nuclear disaster in 2011.

  • Japanese people have criticized the decision online, and one politician said it "tramples the hearts of Fukushima residents."

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

South Korea is launching its own separate food program for its athletes and delegates in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, over fears that they may be served contaminated ingredients, reported Korean news agency Yonhap.

The country has fretted over the possibility of its delegation eating food sourced from Fukushima prefecture, which was hit by a nuclear disaster in 2011.

Japanese authorities maintained that food made with ingredients sourced from the prefecture will be safe when served at the Olympics, but the Korean Olympic Committee said last year that it would still import homegrown ingredients and use radiation detectors to check food.

The country seems set to act on its plans. It has already sent 14 cooks to Japan to whip up 420 meals a day for its Olympians and staff, and has brought along foods like Korean pickles, according to The Japan Times.

As promised, South Korea also plans to conduct radiation checks on locally-sourced ingredients, per The Times.

Masahisa Sato, a member of the Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told the Japanese paper Yomiuri Shimbun that South Korea's food program "tramples the hearts of Fukushima residents."

Japanese people commenting online criticized South Korea's decision, saying it was "disappointing" and "unpleasant."

Tomohisa Ishikawa, director of Macroeconomic Research Center in the Japan Research Institute, worried that Korea's move would damage the brand reputation of Japanese agriculture.

"Farmers in Fukushima are making great efforts for safety and should protest properly. In fact, we make a lot of high quality products," he wrote.

Shinichi Hen, editor-in-chief of the Japanese magazine Korea Report, wrote that these recent developments are "unpleasant" not just for Fukushima, but all of Japan.

Japan's Olympic woes this year with South Korea go beyond food. The South Korean team was recently instructed to remove banners that referenced past conflicts with Japan from their balconies in the Olympic village, reported Reuters on Saturday.

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