Leading MotoGP riders have declared their intention not to race in the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi this October. Their grounds for doing so are fears over the radiation released from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, over 100 miles from Motegi.
Perhaps the MotoGP riders fear that they would be conscripted into helping out at the reactor site, manning the pumps in the on-going effort to circulate cooling water to the reactor cores and spent fuel rods.
It's easy to understand their position: when you spend your working life skimming the tarmac at 140mph on two wheels, running the risk of breaking your neck at any moment and spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair, it's easy to see how a small amount of radiation might scare the bejesus out of you.
One trusts, as well, that none of the MotoGP riders smoke, for tobacco contains polonium-210, the same radioactive substance used to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. A person who smokes one and a half packs of cigarettes a day, has been estimated to build-up a radiation dose equivalent to 300 chest x-rays a year. One also hopes that the MotoGP riders travel by boat to remote Grand Prix venues, given that passengers on long-haul air-flights are subject to a dose of radiation from cosmic ray neutrons.