More local governments kick off Tokyo Olympic training camps

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Amid the relentless spread of the novel coronavirus, a growing number of local governments in Japan have decided to forgo hosting pre-Tokyo Games training camps for foreign athletes expected to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

On Wednesday, 78 municipalities decided to cancel training camps or exchange programs for athletes and local residents. More municipalities made such decisions later.

Meanwhile, municipalities that still plan to accept foreign athletes, including those that serve as so-called host cities, are ready to step up their measures against the virus.

The town of Takanezawa in Tochigi Prefecture had made an effort to accept 25 people, including track and field athletes and boxers, from Lesotho, including creating newsletters to enable elementary school students and local secondary schools to discover the culture and geographic features of Africa. country.

But the city decided to cancel the plan as preparations did not go smoothly in part due to the Lesotho Embassy in Japan introducing a work-at-home system amid the crisis in Japan. virus. With the embassy still asking the city for continued support, the Takanezawa municipal government will consider hosting online interaction events for the city’s Lesotho athletes and students.

The town of Yokoshibahikari in Chiba Prefecture, which serves as the host city for Belize, has also decided to cancel a training camp for the Central American nation’s athletes.

The Japanese government has released coronavirus countermeasures guidelines for local governments hosting overseas Olympians and Paralympians.

The city “concluded that it was impossible” to accept athletes from Belize, however, because the restrictions on transportation, accommodation and training venues set by the guidelines are too strict, said Haruhiko Sato , mayor of Yokoshibahikari. The city must also prioritize the vaccinations of local residents against the coronavirus.

“We would be very sorry if the athletes (from Belize) are infected with the virus and become unable to participate in the games,” Sato added.

In contrast, the city of Kagoshima, which is considering accepting the South African men’s rugby sevens team, believes it is possible to put in place countermeasures in line with the guidelines.

The city aims to be registered as a host city by the end of June. South Africa has hosted a training camp in the city ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The town of Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture is expected to host 21 people from Poland, including wrestlers, in mid-July. They will be allowed to use a city-run gymnasium for training.

Polish athletes appear to “feel safe,” a city government official said, noting that the coronavirus situation in Toyama is more stable than that of the European country.

But the official said he was concerned about stricter rules, such as restricting the use of public transport by athletes and performing polymerase chain reaction tests every day while in Japan.

“We don’t know how long it would take for (Polish) athletes to take coronavirus tests when they arrive in Japan,” the official added. The Takaoka municipal government is considering several methods of transporting athletes to the city.

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