Some Tokyoites not sold on holding Paralympics under COVID emergency

Aug 25 , 2021. 17 hours ago – 17:03 KYODO NEWS

A sign on a Tokyo metropolitan government vehicle on Aug. 24, 2021, urges people gathering in front of JR Tokyo Station for a flyover by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Blue Impulse aerobatic team to stay home as the capital remains under a COVID-19 state of emergency. The ASDF aerobatic team flew over central Tokyo ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics opening ceremony later in the day (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

TOKYO – Some Tokyoites said Tuesday they remain unsure about the Paralympics being held in their city when a COVID-19 state of emergency remains in place and while the capital and other areas of Japan are experiencing surging infections.

“I feel it is contradictory to stage the Olympics and Paralympics while the government asks people to refrain from going out,” said Junko Fujisaki, who was jogging around the National Stadium, the main venue of the games, before going to her office.

The 49-year-old went on to add she understands the situation from the athletes’ perspective, too, adding “I don’t want to see these athletes, who have been training hard for the event, losing their opportunities to shine.”

The Paralympics, delayed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic, run from Tuesday to Sept. 5 with a record 4,403 athletes from around the world ready to take part.

All competitions will be held behind closed doors, however, as a precaution against the coronavirus, but an exception will be made for students involved in a government-backed educational program.

Some parents of pupils in Tokyo schools said they are concerned about their children going to watch Paralympic competitions in person, but will let them do so for fear they will be singled out for not taking part.

Hikari Miyamura, 39, said she responded positively when her daughter’s school asked whether she wanted her 10-year-old to attend the games because other classmates will do so as well.

The mother living in Koto Ward, where many Paralympic venues are located, still wonders if she made the right decision as she remains anxious about the risk of infection.

“I hope the school’s participation in the initiative will be canceled so that I don’t have to worry about it anymore,” she said.

Miyamura got her wish later the same day when the ward said it has scrapped its plan to join the initiative.

Shingo Watanabe, 38, who was at a mass vaccination center run by the Self-Defense Forces in the capital’s Otemachi area, looked forward to the opening of the Paralympics, though he has not before paid much attention to the world’s biggest event for athletes with disabilities.

“Since it will be held in my country…I want to discover new sports,” he said. “I also understand there are people who support a cancellation, but since it has been already decided, I want to support the games by doing my part in fighting the virus.”

The organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics said Tuesday that 10 more coronavirus cases related to the Paralympics have been confirmed, bringing the cumulative total since Aug. 12 to 154.

The 10 cases included an athlete from overseas, who was staying in the athletes’ village, and five contractors, all residents of Japan, according to the committee.

Cr. KYODO NEWS