(Reuters) – The Tokyo Paralympics will give a voice to people with disabilities, who have been left behind during the COVID-19 pandemic, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said.
After the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games due to the global health crisis, the Paralympic Games are now set begin on Aug. 24 and Parsons said it was time to focus on the “incredible experience” athletes will have in Japan.
“It’s the moment we can give the world’s billion people with a disability a voice in a moment where they most need to be heard because they have been left behind during a crisis,” he told paralympic.org.
A spike in COVID-19 infections in Japan has led to health experts and medical groups voicing their concerns about the Olympics, while an online petition calling for the Games to be cancelled was signed by hundreds of thousands of people.
But Parsons said athletes can be assured of a safe experience in Tokyo, with COVID-19 testing, restrictions on movement and reduction in the number of attendees among the measures in place.
“We are doing our utmost to protect not only the Games’ participants but the Japanese population,” Parsons said.
“The chance of someone attending the Games testing positive and also getting in contact with a local is very remote because we have designed it like that.
“This experience will not only be amazing on the field of play but a safe one as well.”
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)