In the wake of the massive earthquake of Japan's east coast, which triggered a devastating tsunami, leaving the Fukushima nuclear power plant badly damaged and leaking radiation, there were serious concerns raised about the safety of organizing the Japanese round of MotoGP at Motegi. The initial response was to postpone the race from its original April 24th spot to October 2nd, giving Honda (the circuit owners) to repair the track and get it ready for the race.
The riders, and many members of the paddock including much of the media, are worried about racing at Motegi, however, fearing the consequences of racing just 120 km away from a badly-damaged nuclear power plant. They have not been reassured by reports from scientists (including the IAEA, the international body charged with monitoring all forms of nuclear energy around the world), and have been campaigning to get the race either canceled, or moved to Suzuka.
Their attempts have not paid off, however. Yesterday, the FIM issued a press release announcing that the Motegi race will be taking place as planned. Citing independent international research, the regions around Motegi have been declared safe, and as a consequence, there are no grounds to cancel.
The decision is not completely final. FIM President Vito Ippolito is due to make an announcement next week, at the Mugello round of MotoGP.
Below is the official FIM press release:
2011 FIM World Championships events scheduled in Japan
The FIM Board of Directors will assess the situation prevailing in Japan during its meeting in Geneva next week-end. Furthermore, talks will be held next week at the FIM Headquarters with representatives from the Motorcycle Federation of Japan.
In principle, Suzuka and Motegi circuits being situated outside the exclusion and evacuation zones, and based on the information provided by an independent report, a number of agencies including several governments, the World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the 2011 FIM World Championships events in Japan (QTEL FIM Endurance World Championship, SPEA FIM Trial World Championship and FIM World Championship Grand Prix) will be taking place as scheduled.
A final announcement will be made by the FIM President during the MotoGP in Mugello.