Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said that the IOC "is completely unfazed by the continued radioactive water leaks at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant," according to KYODO. PM Shinzo Abe told a global audience the Fukushima plant was "under control." Abe claimed that "the radioactive effects from the plant are contained within a 300-meter radius off the shores of Fukushima and, according to Takeda, the IOC is sold." Takeda said, "In Buenos Aires, the prime minister made it clear he would personally oversee the situation regarding the contaminated water at the plant." Takeda said that "the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee will be launched in early February, but refrained from mentioning who will head the committee." So far, former PM and Japan Rugby Football Union President Yoshiro Mori "has been linked with the job" (KYODO, 10/29).
The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games "unveiled its emblem for the Paralympics Tuesday at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul," according to Jung Min-ho of the KOREA TIMES. POCOG President Kim Jin-sun said, "The true meaning of Paralympics lies in transcending barriers between people and people with physical challenges and creating a society without prejudice. The emblem is the symbol of the movement." The emblem is designed using the Korean character, "Chang." The POCOG explained that "the shape of the word embodies snow, ice and winter sports, and the use of two 'Changs' symbolizes the harmony between Olympians and Paralympians" (KOREA TIMES, 10/29).
Russian President Vladimir Putin, "seeking to defuse criticism over his treatment of Russia's gay community," said that "all people will be welcome in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics," according to Alexei Anishchuk of REUTERS. Putin told IOC President Thomas Bach on an inspection visit in Sochi on Monday, "We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation." The remark came unexpectedly from Putin, who said that "there is no discrimination against gays in Russia which decriminalized homosexuality" in '93. But gay people are often blamed for not helping overcome Russia's demographic problems and face ostracism from the resurgent Orthodox Church, "which has fostered increasingly close ties with the Kremlin during Putin's 13-year rule." Bach "urged Russia to brace itself for tough competition during the event which will challenge not only Russia's organizational skills but also its confidence in its sporting standing." Bach told Putin, "When the Olympic flame will be burning at the Olympic stadium, it is up to you, because the success of Olympic Games also very much depends on the success of the home team" (REUTERS, 10/28).
As Russia begins the 100-day countdown to the Sochi Games, last week's deadly assault on a passenger bus in the town of Volgograd has "diverted attention from other pressing questions of readiness that have dogged final preparations for several recent Olympics," according to Kevin Johnson of USA TODAY. Security is among the "most pressing concerns for organizers, who have faced questions about Russia's law banning gay 'propaganda,' passed in June, and the city's ability to host thousands of visitors in an area where venues, hotels and transportation infrastructure are being built from scratch." No other recent Olympic city has "faced the security challenge that confronts Russia." The U.S. State Department in an advisory to U.S. residents attending the Games "noted the security risks that exist just more than 100 miles from some of the mountain venues." The same advisory also "contained a warning about the potential ramifications related to the anti-gay law passed this year." However, the IOC has said that it is "'fully satisfied' that Russia's anti-gay law won't violate the Olympic charter's anti-discrimination clause." A source said that Russia's security plan for the Olympics has "created a secure bubble around the venues, but if the plan fails, there is limited access in and out of the venues for medical personnel." The source added that so much Russian security "is being deployed to Sochi that other potential targets in Russia could be vulnerable and equally disruptive, like the bus bombing in Volgograd" (USA TODAY, 10/29).