Tokyo Olympics: Schools pull out from sending students as spectators at games

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have begun accepting cancellations from schools no longer wishing to participate in a program that offers students the chance to watch events at nearby venues. Some local governments close to Tokyo have already opted out of the program due to concerns over coronavirus infections. With the organizers yet to decide on a limit on spectators, many education boards remain uncertain if students will watch athletes competing in the games.

Close to 320 elementary and junior high school students were scheduled to watch football and baseball matches in Yokohama, but the town’s board of education decided to pull out this month based on the views of school principals.

The spectator program provides tickets of the Olympics, supposed to be staged in 2020, to schools and local governments at a discounted price of 2,020 yen ($18). According to the organizing committee, there were around 1.28 million purchase requests as of January last year.

Olympic minister, Tamayo Marukawa said in response to parliamentary questioning Monday that a decision would be made in consultation with the education ministry and the (Olympic) organizing committee when the cap on spectators is decided in June regarding whether the spectator program will still go ahead.

With 40 days to go before the Olympic opening ceremony, Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since late April to bring down the number of infections. As of summer 2019, the capital had planned to have around 900,000 students from public and private schools attend the games.

Meanwhile, the leaders at the G7 gave their support in an official statement. The statement insisted that G7 countries support for holding the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo Olympics 2020 safely and securely as a symbol of global unity in overcoming COVID-19.

With Japan battling the pandemic and concerns over spectator limit to be decided at the end of the month, the games are in an unprecedented situation. While we put our trust in the Japanese authorities, an iconic event of global celebration will stay scarred from the pandemic for the first time in the 21st century.

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