September 23, 2021

Paralympic organizers are tightening the rules on the virus as cases escalate.

Organizers of the Tokyo Paralympics said Sunday they are tightening the rules on the virus, including increasing testing and restricting movement, as Japan battles a record wave of infections just days before the opening ceremony.

The games reopen on Tuesday after a year-long epidemic delay and the Olympics, which ended on August 8, and were hailed by organizers as evidence that their virus laws worked.

Olympic organizers have reported 547 sports-related cases since July 1, but there are already 131 cases among Paralympic participants with two days to go until the opening ceremony.

And Japan has reported more than 25,000 cases a day across the country in recent days, even under the virus emergency in several areas, including Tokyo.

Paralympic participants, like their Olympic counterparts, are governed by so-called playbooks that set limits on the wearing of masks, daily tests of athletes and movement.

But Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Moto said Sunday that “more precautions need to be taken.”

These will include the need for Japan-based staff at the Paralympic Village – currently tested every four days – to be tested daily.

Paralympics
Paralympic Games open in Tokyo on August 24 after a year-long epidemic delay Photo: AFP / Charlie Tribe

And a rule that allows some participants to travel on public transport and move freely after 14 days of restrictions.

“We ask them to eat in the facilities inside the Olympic venues or hotels, where they are staying, eating individually without talking,” Moto said.

“As far as they can go, we ask them to limit them to places on their to-do list.”

Earlier, some participants were able to use public transport in the country after 14 days and travel without permission.

Most of those involved in the Paralympics who have had a positive experience so far have been Japan-based Games staff and contractors, although four athletes and 10 media workers have also had a positive experience.

The overall spread of the virus in Japan is relatively small compared to some severely affected countries, with about 15,500 deaths despite avoiding severe lockdowns.

But vaccine outages in the country began slowly, and officials are now in the race to vaccinate residents, with about 40 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

Copyright AFP All rights reserved.

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