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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 April 28 - May 11  > Tokyo organizers intend to force schoolchildren to attend the Summer Games without protection against COVID-19
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2021 April 28 - May 11 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Tokyo organizers intend to force schoolchildren to attend the Summer Games without protection against COVID-19

May 2, 2021

The latest exclusive of the Sunday Akahata reported that the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Tokyo Metropolitan government plan to mobilize 810, 000 schoolchildren, accounting for 80% of students in public and private schools such as kindergartens and special schools for disabled children in Tokyo, as spectators of the Games.

A video notifying the public of this report on the Sunday Akahata Twitter account reached about 400,000 views, as of May 1.

The plan in question is part of the Tokyo organizers’ project to fill Olympic venues with schoolchildren in collaboration with schools. As the Olympic and Paralympic education program, the organizing committee prepares the required number of tickets, but requires local municipalities to cover costs to implement this project. The organizing committee estimates that about 1.28 million children at all school levels will attend from across Japan. The Tokyo government in the FY 2021 budget allocated about 4.1 billion yen for the planned mobilization of schoolchildren.

However, this project was drawn up before the pandemic hit Japan . Accordingly, it failed to include measures to lessen the risk of children being exposed to the coronavirus. For example, under the project, schools are instructed to use public transportation to get to Olympic venues.

Furthermore, each school’s schedule is arranged in accordance with availability of tickets and thus includes games held at night or on holidays. In addition, if students cannot attend games due to unavoidable circumstances, they will be marked absent from class. Many teachers have criticized the plan as totally irrational.

In response to an inquiry by the Sunday Akahata, a Tokyo government official said that there is no possibility of cancelling the plan. The Tokyo organizers said that it will decide on necessary measures based on discussions at coordination meetings for COVID-19 countermeasures at the Summer Games, showing that it has no concrete measures to protect schoolchildren from infection.

The Tokyo local of the All Japan Teachers and Staffs Union has urged the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education to immediately withdraw the plan which in essence will force schoolchildren to attend the Summer Games.
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