Written with extracts from Kyodo via The Mainichi
TOKYO – Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics sponsors, volunteers and other people involved in its preparations generally showed understanding for an agreement on Tuesday 24 between Japan and the International Olympic Committee on a one-year postponement of the events due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
“Obviously, the celebratory mood of the Olympics has already been fading due to the new coronavirus. Perhaps it would not have been fully welcome if the games went on as scheduled. We just need to start afresh,” said an official of one of the tournament sponsors, who asked not to be named.
Another official at a sponsoring company said, “We’ve been making preparations for the tournament to be held in summer so it’s a disappointment, but we’re glad it wasn’t canceled.”
“The outlook remains unclear but we’ll thoroughly fulfil our role all the way through,” the official said.
Volunteers for the Paralympic Games said the postponement will provide extra time for preparing barrier-free access to venues and transportation.
“I’m relieved,” said Eriko Kawahata, a 54-year-old Tokyo resident in a wheelchair who planned to support the events as a volunteer. The spread of the coronavirus has raised health concerns for people with disabilities, she said.
“I was afraid myself and other athletes with disabilities would have more severe symptoms if we get infected,” Kawahata said. “I hope the games will be held in a way that athletes and staff can give their fullest without worries.”
Masayoshi Imanishi, an official at Japan National Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International, said, “We hope further improvements will be made at facilities, public transportation and venues by reflecting more opinions of Paralympic athletes and other people with disabilities.”