FUKUSHIMA - Two municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture are poised to partner up with Ghana and the Netherlands in a central government project to promote exchanges between local people and athletes coming to Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The town of Inawashiro and the city of Koriyama will interact with athletes from Ghana and the Netherlands, people involved in the project said Monday.
The government is pitching the 2020 Games as an opportunity to show the world it has recovered from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
The project could boost the chances of the municipalities hosting training camps before the games, which would help brush away the negative image of the triple disaster.
Inawashiro has historic ties with Ghana, as it is the hometown of famed Nobel-nominated bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928), who died in the capital of present-day Ghana while studying yellow fever.
Koriyama is a sister city of Brummen, the Netherlands. Koriyama has also played host to some 8,000 evacuees from other parts of the prefecture following the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The area’s farming and tourism industries have been hit by persistent concerns over radiation exposure.
The central government is shouldering half of the municipalities’ costs for hosting sports and cultural exchanges after they choose specific countries, regions or types of sports to work with.
Roughly 70 municipalities had applied for the host town project by the first deadline in December.