From The Japan News
August 14 2021
TOKYO – The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to provide shuttle buses to ferry groups of schoolchildren to Tokyo Paralympics events, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. By supplying an alternative to public transportation, the government aims to assuage concerns about the risk of infection with the novel coronavirus that have been raised by parents and municipalities over the school-viewing program planned for the Paralympic games.
The school-viewing scheme was conceived as an educational opportunity for students to experience the action at the Tokyo Games.
Although the program was also planned for the Olympics, such viewings were ultimately cancelled for areas other than Miyagi, Ibaraki and Shizuoka prefectures due to a spike in coronavirus cases.
As of mid-July, about 10 municipalities, including Koto Ward and Hachioji City, still responded favorably to the Paralympics viewings, when surveyed by the metropolitan board of education. However, the subsequent resurgence in coronavirus infections is said to have prompted some of these municipalities to take a more cautious stance.
In response to such concerns, the metropolitan government now plans to provide the dedicated buses to directly shuttle elementary, junior high, and high school students between schools and event venues. Participation in the school program will not be compulsory. The metropolitan government intends to receive advance approval from parents and guardians of students who want to attend.
Schoolchildren would be among the few spectators allowed to watch from the stands at the Paralympics Games, slated to commence on Aug. 24.
The central government and Paralympics organizing committee has indicated that the Games will most likely be held without general spectators in Tokyo, Saitama and Chiba prefectures, where a state of emergency is in effect. A maximum of 5,000 spectators is being considered for Shizuoka Prefecture, where emergency-level priority measures remain in place.
The final decision on whether students take part will be left to local authorities and other school officials.