Tokyo 2020 organizers marked one year to go until the opening of the delayed Paralympic Games in a simple manner on Monday amid concerns of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Some emblematic venues of the Paralympic Games and the landmark Skytree tower were illuminated in the Paralympic colors of red, blue and green to pay tribute to medical workers fighting against COVID-19, as well as to cheer on and support athletes preparing for the Games.
Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori expressed his optimism that the Games would be held next year.
“Every time we hear the voices of para-athletes looking forward to next year’s Games, it gives us renewed strength to work for the Games’ success.
“We will continue to work closely with the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other related organizations in all aspects of preparations, including COVID-19 countermeasures, as we work to deliver a safe and secure Games.”
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike sounded a more positive note about the Games, whose rescheduled dates run from August 24 to September 5, 2021.
“In order to respond to everyone’s hopes, we will first devote all of our efforts to winning the fight against an invisible enemy — the novel coronavirus,” she said.
“We will work closely with all parties concerned and advance preparations to hold a successful Games brimming with hope, which will serve as a symbol of humankind bonding even more strongly as the world came together as one to overcome this difficult situation,” Koike added.
Mori said earlier that the Olympic and Paralympic Games would not necessarily take place if the pandemic cannot be fully contained by next summer. International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons echoed this view in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
“If the situation was like it is today, if we were going to start tomorrow, we could not go ahead,” Parsons said. “We need to learn more, prepare better.”
He added, “How we can ensure that we will not have one single case? One single case in the village can really disrupt the Games.”
Tokyo on Monday confirmed 95 new daily cases of COVID-19, with the figure dropping to the lowest count since July 8. The latest figure compares to 212 new infections reported on Sunday and 256 additional cases reported in the capital on Saturday.
Monday’s figure for Tokyo is the first time since July 8 when 75 cases were confirmed that the number of daily infections has remained below the 100-mark.
The Tokyo metropolitan government has continued to urge Tokyo residents to refrain from traveling outside the prefecture, as well as avoid dining out in groups, even those including small gatherings held in close proximity with others, in a bid to curb the virus’ spread.