By Barrier Free Japan
August 19 2021
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will begin with the Opening Ceremony on August 24 and end on September 5. ‘Flame Lighting’ events began on August 12, despite the relay being scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many are keen for Paralympic Games to go ahead. Although on Friday August 13, the International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons released a statement warning against complacency toward a steep rise in coronavirus cases in Tokyo, saying:
“While it is encouraging that the Olympic Games were delivered safely and successfully, those attending the Paralympic Games should not get complacent…We cannot ignore the current case numbers in Japan and Tokyo, and I urge every single stakeholder for the Paralympic Games to be vigilant.”
Ultimately, The Tokyo Paralympics will be held without spectators at all venues due to an alarming rise in coronavirus infections in the host city and many other parts of Japan, officials familiar with the planning said about a week before the opening of the games.
And many in Japan agree with the banning of spectators, “It’s unavoidable for the Paralympic Games to take place behind closed doors”, said one 66-year old man.
Ami Kusano, a 21-year-old university student from Fuchu, Tokyo, said, “It was the right decision.” Kusano is slated to take part in the Paralympic Games as a volunteer.
The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to provide shuttle buses to ferry groups of schoolchildren to Tokyo Paralympics events. 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.
“It’s important for athletes to be able to compete in a safe environment and do their best,” she said, supporting the decision by the Japanese government, the Paralympics Games organizing committee, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the International Paralympic Committee. “I want the safety of children joining the school program to be ensured,” Kusano added.