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JAPANESE DENY PRESSURE LED TO LOSS OF 2 SKI EVENTS

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Japanese Olympic officials deny that pressure from environmental groups led to the loss of two World Cup downhill ski events in Nagano, Japan, which is bidding against Utah to host the 1998 Winter Olympics, according to Japanese press reports.

Further, the governor of the Nagano prefecture reportedly said the city would not build Olympic facilities until Japan learns what city the International Olympic Committee will select to host the Games.Utah must begin, under a U.S. Olympic Committee rule, construction of a bobsled-luge run and speed skating rink by December 1991.

Nihon Keizai Shinbun, a daily business newspaper published in Tokyo, recently reported that the Japan Ski Alliance scuttled plans to hold World Cup events in 1991 and 1992 because of pressure from the Nagano Nature Protection Alliance.

"At present, the course has not been made because of arguments over nature protection," the paper reported, according to a translation provided by Japanese Business Services Inc., a Salt Lake language translation service.

But in a subsequent article in the Japan Times, Nagano city officials denied they bowed to environmentalist pressures. "Nagano had long withdrawn its candidacy as a site because of an insufficient preparation period," a city official said, according to the report.

The Japan Ski Alliance had hoped to use the events to campaign for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics, the newspaper said. Utah; Sochi, USSR; Oestersund, Sweden; and Jaca, Spain, also are bidding for the Games.