Olympic village reopens a week before Paralympics amid ‘challenges’

Tokyo, Aug 17 (EFE).- The Olympic village in Tokyo reopened on Tuesday to host parathletes, a week before the start of the Paralympic Games and in the midst of a sharp surge in Covid-19 infections in Japan.

“I understand there are different challenges with Paralympians compared to Olympians,” Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, said at a press conference on Monday.

“We will make our utmost efforts so Paralympians do not get infected with the virus,” he added.

The safety of the athletes is of particular concern to the organizers as the pre-existing medical conditions of some parathletes puts them at risk of developing serious symptoms of the disease.

As with the Olympic athletes, safety measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections inside the village’s facilities including the mandatory use of mask, social distancing and daily PCR tests.

Moreover, the duration of the parathletes’ stay in Tokyo is limited. They will be allowed to enter the village for seven days prior to their competition and must leave the facilities two days after the last event.

The Tokyo 2020 organizers decided on Monday to hold the competition behind closed doors and without any spectators, similar to the Olympics a few weeks ago, with the sole exception of allowing the entry of schoolchildren as part of an educational program.

The president of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said she was “convinced” that it is possible to safely hold the Paralympics by implementing measures based on the experience gained during the Olympics, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

But the organizers also highlighted the lack of information on the number of vaccinated parathletes since many of them decided not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine due to their health conditions.

A total of 4,400 Paralympians from 160 countries will compete in the largest sporting event for differently-abled athletes between Aug. 24 and Sep. 5, arriving in Japan during its worst Covid-19 wave since the start of the pandemic.

Despite a state of emergency in the Japanese capital since July 12, Covid-19 infections have tripled in the country since July 23, when the Olympics kicked off, with over 20,000 daily cases that have put the capital’s hospitals at capacity. EFE


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