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MotoGP Riders Plan Boycott of Motegi GP Round: Is It Reasonable?

Not only is the Howard-Hughes bankrolled John Wayne vehicle The Conqueror (1956) considered one of the 10 worst films of all time, it also may have literally killed much of its cast and crew, including Wayne, Susan Hayward and director John Powell. The commonly attributed culprit? The Big C, courtesy of your (or your parents’) tax dollar-funded above-ground nuclear testing.

That testing took place in 1953 at the Nevada Test Site during an era when the government was testing dozens of thermonuclear weapons a year, seemingly with little regard for the safety of its own population. Unfortunately for The Duke, during filming those tests were flinging all kinds of radioactive particles high into the atmosphere just 137 miles upwind of the Mongolia-ish cliffs and sands of St. George, Utah. By 1981, 91 of 220 cast and crew had developed some form of cancer. Was there a link? Hey, many of them did smoke and drink heavily, so who knows?

We at MD don’t know if the 16 of 17 MotoGP racers indicating they may boycott Motegi in October know anything about The Conqueror or its aftermath, but they seem to have a sense of caution consistent with that knowledge. Twin Ring Motegi is 90 miles from Tokyo and just 66 miles from the ailing and radioactive Fukushima reactors. The fear, of course, is radiation poisoning — but what kind of dose would the racers get in a week at Motegi?

That’s where things get murky. The Japanese government is keeping everybody except emergency workers 12 miles away from the stricken plant, and people living within 19 miles of the plant have been evacuated. The U.S. Embassy, working on recommendations from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has told American citizens to stay 50 miles away. According to at least one report, radiation levels 12 miles from the plant are 1,600 times that of normal environmental radiation (or 16 nanosieverts) and go down from there. At 100 kilometers (62 miles), the level of radiation looks to be much closer to normal. But at this point, few people trust any corporate, governmental or international body to tell the whole truth, or, if attempting to tell the whole truth, be accurate about it.

So, if the experts are saying that a short visit to Motegi is safe, can the expected boycott still be considered reasonable?  Some of these riders are paid very handsomely (most of them, in fact) to risk their lives traveling 200 miles per hour on race tracks.  Should they be allowed to tell their employers that a visit to Motegi creates an unreasonable risk?  In the end, do any of us really know one way or the other?

There are contracts all around, with DORNA (MotoGP’s organizer) committed to bringing the race to Japan, IRTA (the association of racing teams) committed to supplying the racers, and racers committed to riding the races. The smaller names may cave in, fearful of being blackballed next season. But the big names (like Casey Stoner, who has stated he’s “not going regardless of anything”) may think they have less to lose. His seat will likely be filled by a substitute, as will Lorenzo’s, and others that ultimately decide not to attend the race, but the Japanese may nevertheless react aggressively against their disobedient employees.   They will get the message loud and clear, and I’m guessing that, aside from potential breach of contract claims against their riders, they will feel disrespected.

69 Comments

  1. Bubba says:

    They could go there. They will not get radiation sickness but they will be subjected to a massive dose of radiation. Why subject oneself to that if you don’t have to? In twenty years the cancer rates in that area will skyrocket. Birth defects will increase astronomically. It will be horrendous. If the U.S. gov’t says beware, beware.

  2. Dale says:

    Just wondering how long my last reply will await “moderation”?

  3. VFR800fi says:

    Joebar, if you have the requisite training, you would know there is a huge difference between a nuclear weapon being detonated and one being lost in an accident (no detonation when those weapons were lost……uuuuggggghhhhh) Good god at least get the facts right.
    I don’t blame the riders at all, their day jobs are pretty dangerous to start with. Add to it the uncertainty of a radioactive area after probably the worst nuclear accident in history. Just find another track for $%^#%$# sake. The Japanese may make good/competitive bikes, when was the last MotoGP champion Japanese?
    If they are taking applications for replacement riders, I’d be there in a heartbeat (probably wouldn’t last much longer on the bike either) but hell I’d do. But this is their career they have to think about.
    But then again, like everything else on this planet, it all comes down to MONEY…………..

    >>After all, we (The US) dumped a couple of nukes in the Spanish >countryside and the Med a few decades ago.
    >These guys are amazing riders, but they know nothing of nuclear >physics.
    >And yes, I am an engineer with the requisite training. This >discussion is stupid and counterproductive.

    Joebar you’re a goof, and if you have anything to do with the US nuclear industry, god or something or someone help us…….

  4. Foogunheimer says:

    Fukushimi disaster is rated at least as bad as Chernobyl. Do your research, perhaps look at Wikipedia and all the FACTS surrounding this accident. Japan will never be the same. Why not look at this quote from Wikipedia:

    [Even though only two people died at the Fukushima, Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear power industry executive who served as an expert witness in the investigation of the Three Mile Island accident, said that “Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind.”] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster

    I think the decision to not race there is very understandable. BTW, the teams are there all week while the fans might be exposed for about 4 hours.

  5. Joe Bar says:

    If the riders pull out, the the manufacturers should pull out of one of the Spanish rounds. It’s only fair.

    After all, we (The US) dumped a couple of nukes in the Spanish countryside and the Med a few decades ago.

    These guys are amazing riders, but they know nothing of nuclear physics.

    And yes, I am an engineer with the requisite training. This discussion is stupid and counterproductive.

    • Dale says:

      Perhaps because of their ignorance of the Science involved their apprehension is more understandable. I can only think of one fear I have (being in the water offshore, at night, remove one or the other and no problem) and it largely relates to the unknown and my own imagination. My ignorance of the reality involved if you will.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “These guys are amazing riders, but they know nothing of nuclear physics.”

      should they…? since as you pointed out, they already have day jobs.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “If the riders pull out, the the manufacturers should pull out of one of the Spanish rounds.”

      that’s what the wise men call “cutting off one’s nose to spite of one’s face”.

  6. Trevor says:

    The should boycott. The Japanese have NOT been very forthcoming when it comes to how bad the leak was/is…

  7. jimbo says:

    Some weeks after the radiation leak, did not the Japanese admit that radiation levels were many multiples higher than they earlier admitted?

  8. kpaul says:

    Move the race to Salt Lake or China or Korea or anywhere else. I totally support the riders on this one. I have niece in Japan, her husband in in the USAF, and she says its a mess still and no one trusts the government anymore.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Move the race to Salt Lake or China or Korea or anywhere else.”

      and sell tickets on short notice without the benefit of promotion to whom…? can you imagine what the additional cost would be to up and reroute the circus to another venue…? i don’t know what it is, but rest assured it’s MORE than the loss that’s going to occur with the cancellation of motegi. motogp doesn’t own any circuits. what owner is going to shell out for that sanctioning fee…? or is motogp just supposed to absorb it…?

      i think it’s time for us all to sober up and accept reality. we are not in control. nature’s power is BIGGER than us. motegi is cancelled (it’s over johnny, it’s over!). in fact, you’d be wise to get comfortable with the possibility that we may not see another race at motegi in our lifetime…? if i were honda, (with geiger counter in hand) i’d be crating up the collection and thinking about a new home.

  9. Dale says:

    I’ve worked as a site coordinator for a support Company at a Nuclear Power Plant during outages so I’m confident of my ability to access nuclear risks and react according to ALARA. I’ve stood at arms length from an off-line Nuclear Reactor (Big suckers). From what I know, granted only what they’ve told us, I wouldn’t hesitate to attend the race at Motegi. I darn near volunteered to assist them in their containment efforts, at some distance, in logistical support.

    Those front-line Workers are/were TRUE HERO’S in my eyes, they’d already given their All and knew it, yet they continued working to do what they could to mitigate current and future damage for their Countrymen/ The World. Many of us would have chosen to spend the last moments of their lives doing something else, somewhere else…

    I believe that all of us have fears, reasonable or not. Knowing how inherently high the risks are in World Class Motorcycle Road Racing the Courage of the Riders in my mind is beyond doubt, these Guys are Warriors.

    That said I would stick it out there for the Japanese People who have endured enormous hardship and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. An enjoyable weekend diversion for millions of weary People? A moment of normalcy? A show of solidarity? Just how important is my life anyway?

    Aren’t I Brave? I’m willing to do something that I’m not afraid to do. A relatively acute exposure, the source over 100 kilometers away? No problem, for me.

    If the Riders boycott, threw the cream of the Japanese Superbike Series on those Bikes and have at it, I’ll still watch. I’ll still enjoy the race.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “An enjoyable weekend diversion for millions of weary People? A moment of normalcy? A show of solidarity?”

      if this is truly is the goal…? then the niche business of motorcycling isn’t the answer…? there are a 1000 other activities with broader universal appeal. the “millions” you speak of don’t exist. statistically, we’re only like 5% of the population MAX. same as everywhere else on the planet, the majority don’t give a rats ass about motorcycling (let alone grandprix racing). it’s japan, not spain.

      • Dale says:

        It’s Japan, not the US.

        You seem to have no interest in the facts or science involved here, or the opinions of those that do understand the Science and are working with the same facts as yourself… Still, you’ve demonstrated an agenda strongly against holding this race, why? Are you Very concerned about the health and welfare of the Teams regarding their exposure (which would seem Weird to me unless you’re “close” with some Team member)? Are you merely trying to use this particular approach to express solidarity with the Riders? Is there some other, as yet unannounced to this point, reason for You to be be So strongly against the running of this planned International event? My motivations should be apparent, I “like” Japan and I wanna watch a good race. If the Japanese say “don’t come, We’re not ready for you this year” all good with me, run the Race, Great. I’d truly like to know, why do You “have a dog in this fight”?

        Can’t wait for todays race!

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “You seem to have no interest in the facts or science involved here, or the opinions of those that do understand the Science”

          YAHTZEE…!!! that’s exactly point i’m trying to convey. unless we’re all taking our doctorates in chemistry and know how to calculate the half life of a heavy element in row 7 of the periodic table…? nobody is going to care. you’re not going to find rational behavior around a “weighty” subject (pun intended) like NUCLEAR RADIATION outside the halls of academia. the average human being doesn’t process information like that. as K said to J… “a person is smart. PEOPLE on the other hand are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

          re: “My motivations should be apparent, I “like” Japan and I wanna watch a good race.”

          i believe BOB already articulated this major malfunction below… GO BOB…!!!

          “The comments on here are mainly pure selfishness of people who simply want to sit in the comfort of their homes, several thousand miles away, and be entertained for a meager hour.”

          re: “I’d truly like to know, why do You “have a dog in this fight?”

          if you’ve been on here any amount of time, you’d already know the answer to that question…? why the great and wonderful niche business of motorcycling of course…!!! :)

          • Dale says:

            I looked at your other posts on this topic and I see the light. Your reply was as informative and rational (and revealing) as I expected it would be, thanks, I guess.

            “re: “My motivations should be apparent, I “like” Japan and I wanna watch a good race.”

            i believe BOB already articulated this major malfunction below… GO BOB…!!!

            “The comments on here are mainly pure selfishness of people who simply want to sit in the comfort of their homes, several thousand miles away, and be entertained for a meager hour.””

            My reply, to Such a damning blow? Scratching my butt, speaking an unapologetic, deeply questioning… AND???

            You’re rationale for running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off is that everyone else is doing that? OK… You’re a PEOPLE and not a person? OK…

            Your stated cause here is being in support of “the great and wonderful niche business of motorcycling of course…!!! ” By advocating for the cancellation of a motorcycle race? Who couldn’t follow that logic?

            Good luck with your attempt at staying clear of ionizing radiation or radioactive contamination (or hyperbole). Let me know how much time you spend in such a place. “No thanks Norm, I’m good, those tin hats look much better on you”. For sport I mention that We wouldn’t Exist without Ionizing Radiation, never would have, Stay away from bananas and the Sun.

            PS Great Race Today! I was selfishly, comfortably, several thousand miles away and entertained by it (I love Laguna, first went to a motorcycle race there in 1973). If you would shoot me for that let me know and I’ll make sure it’s a memorable experience for you, for a moment anyways.

            Next.

  10. Starhawk says:

    Fukushima’s severity is being suppressed to avoid panic, more financial and economic impact, and the liability (and impossibility) of evacuating hundreds of thousands of people, if the truth was admitted. Gov’t radiation monitoring in many areas has been conveniently stopped or reduced. Any reasonable understanding of what 3 complete melt-throughs implies (worse than meltdowns, corium containment has failed), the vast amount of hot spent fuel in damaged pools exposed to the atmosphere, ongoing unavoidable radioactive steam release for months, and the dispersal from the H2 explosions (especially MOX-fueled reactor 3’s huge, dirty mushroom cloud)…and evidence of ongoing criticality from short-lived isotopes being present months after 3/11…makes it clear how serious it really is. Chernobyl will pale in comparison, eventually, because that reactor was buried in concrete within weeks. Radiation will spew from Fukushima for years, and cause unimaginable suffering. Most children in Fukushima City have radioactive urine, likely already exposed enough to make cancer and a shortened life probable.

    NHK is today reporting high levels of radioactivity 150km away, further than Motegi: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/21_06.html Losing 1 round of MotoGP pales in comparison to the health risks from being in that region of northern Japan, even for a short time. Hot particles are a serious threat. Read sites like enenews.com for more information. Even Hawaii and the west coast of North America are being seriously affected.

  11. Youth says:

    If I recall, Honda owns both Motegi and Suzuka. So why not move to Suzuka?

    • Pete says:

      Because Suzuka is nowhere near safe for a modern GP bike.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “So why not move to Suzuka?”

      even if it were safe, there’s still logistical concerns that make it “unsafe”. like, the teams and bridgestone haven’t tested there and as such have ZERO data. it’s not like they’re doing a trackday. this would be same for any circuit REGARDLESS of it’s location in the world. plus, the circus might still have to fly into and out of tokyo airport…? honestly not sure where that’s at relative to the disaster or if there’s another supporting airport closer to the south. see, before there’s any danger of radiation…? we run the danger of “oversimplified” thinking.

  12. Neil says:

    Gotta agree with Bill. Nevada and Fukushima are two different things. I have flown 60,000 miles in Jumbo Jets over the years and had many an XRay and even a CT scan last year which showed a condition that could have been deadly if not checked. It is insulting to the people of the Tokyo region not to race. Motegi is very close to Tokyo compared to Fukushima and it is nowhere near the coast. If the Japanese public is going to show up for the race, then honor them with a race. It is for them, the Japanese people, that the racers race.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Nevada and Fukushima are two different things.”

      correct, because Fukushima and CHERNOBYL make for the better comparison.

  13. mxs says:

    Nothing wrong with expressing an intent not to go.

    Would I trust any government to report on radiation levels … heck no. I’d think you’d be a fool to do so, especially considering that this is not a flu with a short incubation time.

    Is it likely they will get an unhealthy dose? Probably not, but it’s their right to not go, whatever the consequences are.

  14. endoman says:

    I’ll gladly fill in for one of the riders for that race. Preferably on the Repsol Honda, but I’d hop on any of those bikes and soak up some Roetgens while pretending I know how to ride a 240 HP motorcycle.

  15. Markus says:

    Why not move the Japanese event to somewhere less radioactive?
    Maybe Suzuka or Fuji.

  16. Fred says:

    Rumour has it that Rossi was the instigator of this action… perhaps a Ducati thing?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Rumour has it that Rossi was the instigator of this action…”

      he’s a good man that “charlie brown”. as head of rider safety, i would expect nothing less.

  17. Gutterslob says:

    Another one.
    Original link = http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2011/Jun/110607nus11rds.htm

    “Thanks for pointing out how absurd it is that the racers are put off about racing in Japan. It really disappoints me to see so little character from these titans of racing. I can’t even forgive Casey Stoner for his reasoning that they have better things to worry about than racing in Japan.
    To Casey’s point, the Japanese in the area need this race for a number of reasons. Life has to go on. The people in the area are already going bankrupt from a lack of local tourism. Some very old and well known hotels have already gone bust, shops and tourist attractions are on the brink. What they need more than anything is normality. A big motoGP race with lots of foreign tourists and a lot of excitement from foreign press will not only help boost the economy in the short run, it will bring a sense of normality back to the area which could help get some of the local tourists back as well.

    To the frightened ones, Motegi is probably less radioactive than most people’s basements. It’s not only well out of the safety zone around the Daichi plant, it’s also separated by some very healthy sized mountains. They (the riders) are getting CT scans and X-Rays every other month and they want to have us believe that radiation is a complete mystery?

    I’m so utterly disappointed in the nature of these riders at the moment, does it make sense to petition them? Do you think they would respond to that? It baffles my mind that they are playing this stupid. I mean, I realize they are not all rocket scientists, but this is absurd. If ignorance claims victory and the riders boycott a race at Motegi, I fear my patronage in the series will come to an end. Am I being naive? Am I judging them unfairly? Did I miss something here? Forgive me if I am being too dramatic.”

    I agree with this author, btw. Also, I’ve travelled to Japan 3 times since the disaster, once very close to the “danger-zone” near Fukushima. Yes, there’s a risk, but the media, both regional and international seem to be missing the real issue here, which is the amount of people still left homeless and lacking food and water from the tsunami having raped their towns.

    Don’t give me bollocks about tap water being unsafe. There’s no country (except maybe Singapore) where I’d drink water straight from the tap without at least boiling/filtering first.

  18. Gutterslob says:

    Quote: SuperbikePlanet

    “The other gob-smacker has been the riders declaring that they won’t go to Motegi, because of some perceived fear of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Yes, the same riders who have been riding around all year with slogans in support of Japan all over their bikes and leathers. The same riders who asked for more information and then ignored it when it came. For the record, there is no increased radiation level at Motegi, and there is no radiation in the tap water (check the International Atomic Energy Agency’s website for an enormous amount of data on Fukushima). You will be exposed to more radiation flying to Japan than over a weekend in Motegi, and if you’re worried about the milliseiverts adding up, for pity’s sake don’t have an x-ray and definitely steer clear of CT scans. You’d also be surprised at the amount of radiation in a banana—look it up, they’re full of potassium and the K40 isotope is seriously hot.”

  19. Norm G. says:

    re: “the Japanese may nevertheless react aggressively against their disobedient employees.”

    no… they won’t. ’cause they’ll get hit with a MASSIVE counter suit. then they’ll have 2 black eyes. one being the disaster itself, and the other being when a judge rules in favor of the riders. “acts of God” are dealbreakers, as such there’s no wording in those contracts about being a willful “radiation sponge”.

  20. Norm G. says:

    also a copy of my post on another site:

    let’s face it. nobody’s going to japan. as if a career spent racing motorcycles weren’t risky enough? reports shmorts, who cares. do us all a favor, don’t waste your time generating any more “reports”. they aren’t worth the irradiated paper they’re printed on. see, what if they made a MISTAKE on said reports? what are they going to say to my wife and kid? “ooops”? NO DEAL…!!!

  21. Booyaaa says:

    this sport is getting more retarded every year, history lessons, physics, rider feelings…great scott….get on the bike and ride

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “great scott….get on the bike and ride”

      great scott… it’s 1 round of a whopping 18 round series. we’ll be just fine with 17.

  22. Dean says:

    I agree with previous comments about an independant test of radiation levels. All governments do “bend the facts” at times, sometimes like the facts were made of rubber… If the independant tests confirm safe levels, I might go myself.

    I have worked around medical Xray equipment and we are always monitored for exposure, and trained how to minimize it. Distance and dose are the key. Obviously low radiation levels are safer, but there is a constant minimum of radiation at all times, everywhere. Solar radiation from space, Radon gas from the ground, radioactivity from most natural and man-made objects. These levels are extremely low, but always present.

    Distance is a key in that the farther away from a radiation source, the less you get. The rule is twice the distance = one-fourth the radiation. So the article says one report showed at 12 miles, there was 1600 times the amount of “normal” radiation levels. So at 24 miles = 400 times normal. 48 miles = 100 times normal. So around 66 miles (assuming you don’t go sightseeing for three headed frogs) would be about 60 times higher than normal as an estimate. For a week visit, that might be a judgement call. You get a lot more than “Normal” radiation every time you go up in an airplane. Don’t they compare an airplane flight to an average Xray exam? So 60 times normal for a week may be similar to an extra aiplane flight or two. Nobody has refused to fly to another location because of the extra radiation from flying…

    The final lesson in Radiation control is even more simple. If you don’t have to be around it, don’t be. That’s why CT and Xray techs leave the room when you get zapped. If they don’t have to hold you down to do it, they step out of the room. If you were not required to go to the race it would be safer not to go. Everyone involved in Racing has risks associated with their jobs. From checmicals used on the bikes, to exhaust fumes, to broken bones suffered in a crash, to environmental pollution or radiation.

    I guess it is a matter of opnion, but the people of Japan would see a benefit from the race being held. Money is generated from lodging, transportation, tourism , meals, lodging. And how about the moral boost in knowing that people still want to come there.

    Not an easy question, but how many easy questions are there these days? If the riders who boycott take a couple flights to get away, they may be getting their ‘dose’ anyway!

    • Dave says:

      But how much more than “normal” exposure do you get on an airplane? 60 times more? And most flights are a couple of hours in the air, not a week (just 5 days is 120 hours, 168 hours for a full week). Assuming your math is correct, I would want to know what is comparable to getting 60 times the normal dose for that much time. The riders’ health is not worth sending a positive message to the Japanese, laudable as that goal is.

  23. Tim says:

    If the championship is still in doubt, it will be interesting to see if Lorenzo and Stoner are both no shows. Say Lorenzo is 20 points behind Stoner going into that race, and learns that Stoner won’t ride, does he really say no to the opportunity ride for the lead? I doubt it. And if Lorenzo is going to ride, does that change Stoner’s mind.

    I’m guessing if the championship is close, they’ll both be there. The risk of a few days of slightly higher than normal radiation is so minimal, would either of them really risk their championship chances?

  24. MikeD says:

    +1. Besides that…i would hate to be on their shoes…is a lose-lose situation…(-_- )…is not like u can see radiation or take a shower and it will go away…plus, who else cares more about yourself than oneself ? Yeah…

  25. Bill says:

    I have a new axiom based loosely on an old one: Those who do not study math or science are doomed to post lunatic conspiracy theory rants on the Internet. All of these goofballs who don’t trust scientists on the ground in Japan wouldn’t hesitate to spend 5 days at the Sachsenring, get a dental xray, or live in a house made of bricks, ALL of which expose you to more radiation than standing on the start finish line of twin ring Motegi for a week.

    • Dean says:

      Which math are you using, based on what numbers?

      I would just remind you that the same scientists for the Japanese government said everything was fine and under control, right until each new phase of reactor meltdowns. When the situation finally stabilized, the truth started coming out.

      • Bill says:

        You are confusing Tokyo Electric Power Company engineers with environmental scientists. TEPCO repeatedly underestimated (or under-reported) how broken their reactor was. But they have no control over information about radiation readings. Any schmuck with a Geiger counter can take a reading, and TEPCO and the Japanese government can’t stop them. So, where are the independent radiation measurements that make twin ring motegi seem like a dangerous place to be? Do you have them?
        What you’re saying is so silly: It’s like you’re saying that the government could lie about what the temperature was, when any fool with a thermometer could prove them wrong.

    • sam says:

      didn’t our own EPA say the air was fine around ground zero? just sayin’…

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “ALL of which expose you to more radiation than standing on the start finish line of twin ring Motegi for a week.”

      3 words… WORST… ASSUMPTION… EVER…!!!

  26. Bob says:

    Copied my post from another site:

    Going on with the race will change nothing for the people of Japan. They only people that will benefit is Dorna and the race venue. Far too many families are still homeless, living in shelters and are struggling to get working again and are living off meager handouts. The drama is over so the big news is over in the press but there is still much to deal with. A friend of mine has family there and he has limited contact with them. He knows they are alive but has no idea when he’ll hear from them again. They couldn’t give a damn about the motoGP race. They care more about wether they’ll get to eat that day.

    The comments on here are mainly pure selfishness of people who simply want to sit in the comfort of their homes, several thousand miles away, and be entertained for a meager hour. The comments are also from the same people who bitch and moan week after week about GP being a boring procession. If you’re so bored, quit watching and whining. Then you wouldn’t have to care if the race goes on or not either. No matter your reason, you’re not the one whose health is on the line.

    As for radiation, apparently none of you have ever lived near a place that has had a meltdown. When I was 10, Three Mile Island (I lived 100 miles away) had a meltdown on reactor #2. There’s a lot to it about the damage inside reactor #2, but evidence got out that contaminated cooling water leaked through the containment area and pressure from hydrogen spikes was vented to the atmosphere. It took “14” years to clean it up. Reports said that everything was at safe levels even the day it happened. The truth that came out a couple years later was that residents got their annual dose of radiation in 1 day, mostly in the form of iodine. It wasn’t until 10 years ago that cases of thyroid cancer started cropping up in people who don’t have a family history of it. Birth defects are more difficult to nail down. Reports from different sides had different findings. The firm that monitored TMI after the incident had different reports from what those that were monitoring a couple hundred miles away were. Where the inconsistencies came from, I don’t know. No matter what the reason, there are sites around the world which have had leaks, even small ones, where people have suffered from cancers, neurological problems and organ failures many years afterwards. They’ve also created offspring with the same problems that need all day special care. Should the riders really risk these potential hardships for one insignificant (in the grand scheme of things) race?

    The thing is, governments lie. The Japanese government included, if it suits their purposes. They can heavily influence those who prepare the reports with the power they wield. They depend on tourist dollars for their economy to thrive. Why wouldn’t they lie to keep them flying in and spending their money? But in the end, the Japanese population as a whole will not benefit from a single MotoGP race proceeding.

    You can still be emotionally supportive of the Japanese but not be present. If you think there is more to showing support, then you need to either send lots of your own money or get on a plane and help rebuild with your own 2 hands.

    As for the rider’s contracts, there’s likely nothing in there that says they have to submit themselves to environmental risks beyond their control. If all else fails, they can claim illness that week from lactose intolerance due to a large bowl of ice cream.

    The race should be canceled and the money that would have been spent on transport of goods and people, fees and such should be donated to a relief fund.

    • Gabe says:

      Nice reply, Bob.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The comments on here are mainly pure selfishness of people who simply want to sit in the comfort of their homes, several thousand miles away, and be entertained for a meager hour.”

      YYYAAAHHHTZZEEE…!!!

    • The Freshest Herb says:

      “The race should be canceled and the money that would have been spent on transport of goods and people, fees and such should be donated to a relief fund.”

      Well stated. +1

    • crashmw says:

      Yeah, and with this increase in Thyroid cancer, how many in the population were taking Iodine tablets?
      You don’t hear about that, but with Chernoble, the same thing happened, and roughly 75% of the population central to the power plant were provided Iodine tablets, and they experienced the very Thyroid cancer that you mention to the tune several hundred times the normal. -Of the 25% that were shet out of luck? they are 70% BELOW the normal Cancer rate -including Thyroid cancer.
      So it is easy to skew opinion if only some of the facts are reported.
      Another interesting tidbit, a Harvard Professor and radiation expert states that “it’s been hard to find excess cancers even from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, particularly because one-third of the population will get cancer anyway. There were about 90,000 survivors of the atomic bombs in 1945 and, more than 50 years later, half of them were still alive.”
      One thing is clear, and that is the prevalence of misinformation…or incomplete information.

  27. Crusty says:

    Fine for everyone to say the riders are self centred but armed forces personel are paid to fight in wars but that does not meen they have to stand up in a hail of bullets.

  28. Ed says:

    Maybe the sponsors could contract to have official radiation testers on site at various locations. That would go along way show it is safe to hold the race there.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Maybe the sponsors could contract to have official radiation testers on site at various locations.”

      may i suggest you re-read what you posted here.

      if this is the extreme one has to go to…? HELLLOOO… MCFLY…!!! (rapping on noggin’) that’s your FIRST clue that the round shouldn’t be happening at all…!!!

  29. Ron says:

    Have to agree with Hotkari. There is something all wrong with how this is playing out. I think the people in Japan need some support after all they’ve been through. Are these guys self centered, or what?

  30. The article says the riders get paid to risk their lives at 200mph which is true but ignores that they have control over those motorcycles. They don’t have any control over exposure to radiation in the area. This could mean risks to everyone including spectators who show up. Some one needs to truth fully test radiation in the area and evaluate it or cancel the race. If I was a racer I would seriously question the wisdom of going and I wouldn’t go just because some promoter might lose money.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Some one needs to truth fully test radiation in the area and evaluate it”

      actually no one needs to waste their time doing anything. the sobering truth is nobody cares. good or bad…? the test results are MEANINGLESS. the only tests that matter are the ones that happen 6 months LATER that show you positive for thyroid cancer. afterall, what is someone going to do with a “negative” environmental test then…? wipe their ass…?

  31. Bill says:

    Comparing a week’s visit to Northern Japan post-tsunami with a month’s filming downwind of the Nevada test site in the era of above ground (and near surface) testing is disingenuous.
    The Nevada experiemnts of the time included using a shallowly buried warhead to simulate rapidly excavating a canal. The result was to blow millions of tons of heavily irradiated dirt miles into the atmosphere where it drifted down range to be inhaled and ingested by anyone in its path. At Fukushima, some lightly irradiated water leaked into the sea, months ago. The potential exposure difference is like comparing thimbles to supertankers.
    Casey and Lorenzo need to get a grip, and consult someone with some knowledge of the real risks.
    If they do skip the Motegi round, they should lose their Japanese factory rides forever. Ignorance of physics is hardly an excuse for biting the hand that feeds you. Their boycott, if it happens, will quickly be seen as both stupid, and disloyal.

    • Gabe says:

      Actually, these were all atmospheric tests. And I was not comparing them–just trying to come up with a similar situation to hook readers.

      • Gabe says:

        I should have been more specific: the 1953 tests were atmospheric tests.

        • kpaul says:

          I thought it was a good analogy. Bill assessment is not correct. My niece in Japan says the government is not trusted anymore and they want an independent assessment by an International third party. Remember Chernobyl ???? I suggest Bill do so more research and not get his news from Bill ORielly on Fox.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Casey and Lorenzo need to get a grip”

      limited by contract to the handlebars of a 212 and an M1. nothing more.

    • John says:

      Agreed. I’m a physician, and while I don’t have a physics degree the risks that Stoner et al. are exposing themselves to is likely less than the radiation exposure they receive when they make the 50+ airplane trips every year that they have to make for their jobs. Its interesting that even in this particular incidence Stoner and Lorenzo show the same immaturity they have demonstrated many times before in MotoGP. These guys need to get a grip.
      Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised however, as according to a BIKE editor and former TT racer, “most racers are thick as sh!t”! (a sentiment I don’t necessarily agree with however)

  32. Hotkarl says:

    If Stoner, or Lorenzo would have mentioned the concern for the fans, mechanis, and media in attendance and turned the attention, there would be a lot less controversy. Honestly, who runs the PR for these guys?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “If Stoner, or Lorenzo would have mentioned the concern for the fans, mechanis, and media in attendance and turned the attention, there would be a lot less controversy.”

      honestly, i don’t think they have to. they realise THEY have to be the point men on this. they’re rich so it’s nothing for them to be “sacrificial lambs”. this, they do for the guys on their team. trust me, they don’t want to go either, but since when does boffin #5 have a voice…? in a total dick move, the manufacturers would just hold their jobs over their heads. as such, they fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

      • Easy G says:

        Gee Norm G., you sure post alot of negative comments to people (11 posts one article)…. just saying.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “you sure post alot of negative comments to people (11 posts one article)…. just saying.”

          correct. it’s not by accident, but premeditated and deliberate. i invite you to ALSO observe how the negativity is proportional to the gravity of the situation. i mean we’re talking NUCLEAR RADIATION right…? ie. a life/death subject.

          from some of the comments it appears there’s a fair amount of ignorance and niavete regarding that it even IS a life/death subject…? as such it is appropriate, a “necessary evil” if you will. Q: what option when LOGIC doesn’t work…? A: sarcasm.

          i say better to err on the side of “negativity”, than we have more bad judgement being exhibited (from motorcyclists mind you) that risks lives. :( granted not the same, but we saw similiar poor reasoning surrounding the simoncelli/pedrosa incident…? simo was one thing, but to have this theme “reoccur” in the context of NUCLEAR DISASTER (really?)… you have to admit is MORE than just a lil’ disturbing.

          re: “Gee Norm G.”

          my rap alias back in the 80’s… :)