The Japanese online circuit went wild Tuesday when local media outlets reported the European racing team had arrived with enough food to feed the 80-strong team and staff members so they can avoid eating Japan-made products during their stay, and with it any conceivable risk of food contaminated by radiation from the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. In addition, the reports stated that team leader Christian Horner advised staff and racers to limit eating meals out.
But as the clamor grew, there was just one small problem with the story: Red Bull Japan said the reports — based on a story originally reported in German newspaper Bild am Sonntag — are not true.
The company explained the team uses local vendors to supply the team with on-site meals. In Japan, some items such as Australian beef have been imported, but domestically produced food is included in the mix, adding that this composition is no different from past years nor other destinations on the team’s globe-trotting itinerary. The company’s Japan arm also said it’s not true that Mr. Horner had directed staff to shun outside food, saying some members have already eaten local meals since landing earlier Tuesday.
The team is part of an army of the world’s fastest racers descending on Japan up for what could be the season’s deciding championship race at the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Japan at the Suzuka race track this weekend. The track, located in Mie prefecture, is about 470 kilometers away from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Still, the groundless story comes at a sensitive time among racing fans here, torn between their admiration for the speedway heroes and the visitors’ unreserved concerns about radiation exposure. The Formula 1 racers arrive shortly after the MotoGP riders, who were vocal about their worries ahead of the Japanese motorcycle grand prix meet.
Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo said last weekend he used bottled water to bathe himself to avoid showering in tap water in Japan. Honda rider Dani Pedros considered leaving his clothes in Japan championship racer, while Casey Stoner flew in at the 11th hour from Australia to keep the trip to Japan short, according to news reports from Agence France-Presse.