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'Impossible now': Japan's Olympic host towns pull out over pandemic

Some towns - like Okuizumo, which was to host the Indian hockey team for a pre-Games event - are backing out as Covid-19 cases rise globally - while others, like Tottori, have revised expectations of Olympians interacting with locals.

April 27, 2021 / 11:26 AM IST
Municipalities and towns outside Tokyo had signed up to host the elite athletes, so they could meet and inspire local children. Yet, as the Covid-19 situation worsens in some parts of the globe, this will no longer be possible. (Image: AP)

Municipalities and towns outside Tokyo had signed up to host the elite athletes, so they could meet and inspire local children. Yet, as the Covid-19 situation worsens in some parts of the globe, this will no longer be possible. (Image: AP)

Tokyo, Japan | AFP: Hundreds of Japanese towns and cities have been forced to rethink plans to host Olympic teams because the coronavirus will prevent public appearances and require costly safety measures.

The western town of Okuizumo spent more than $5 million preparing to welcome India's hockey team for a pre-Games training camp, only to scrap the visit because of Covid-19.

After sinking money into upgrading sports facilities, Okuizomo baulked when it became clear it would have to provide bubble-like biosecurity measures with regular virus tests and medical care.

"We wanted to have one of the world's top tier teams visit our town and show their skills to local children," town official Katsumi Nagase told AFP. "But that seems impossible now."