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Tokyo 2020 student ticket programme in doubt as COVID-19 prompts schools to withdraw

Tokyo 2020 has accepted withdrawals from schools from its ticketing programme ©Getty Images

A number of schools have withdrawn from a programme which allows students to attend events at nearby venues at the rearranged Olympic Games in Tokyo because of COVID-19 fears.

Kyodo News reported local Governments close to the Japanese capital are among those to have pulled out of the scheme, where schools are offered Olympic tickets at a discounted price.

The programme could be scrapped entirely due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, an unnamed Metropolitan Government official told the Japanese news agency.

It would be rendered obsolete if Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ban all spectators from the Games.

A decision on whether fans will be able to attend, and potential capacity limits, is due to be made by the end of this month, while international spectators have already been barred because of the pandemic.

In Nakai, located in Kanagawa Prefecture, 320 elementary and junior high school students had been due to watch football and baseball matches in Yokohama before local officials withdrew from the spectator programme.

More than 5,500 tickets had initially been requested from schools in Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture, the venue for golf at Tokyo 2020, but around 3,000 have been returned.

Tokyo 2020 could yet take place behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images

Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa revealed this week that a decision on whether to go ahead with the ticket initiative would be made once organisers had confirmed the plans on spectators attending the event.

There have been calls for the Olympics and Paralympics to be held behind closed doors to protect a Japanese public which has expressed rising opposition to the Games going ahead during a pandemic.

While a recent survey by Japanese daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun revealed half of respondents are in favour of holding the Olympics and Paralympics in some form, other polls have shown the public is largely in favour of cancellation.

COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and Japan have been declining in recent weeks following a spike earlier this year, but concerns remain over tens of thousands of people arriving in the country for the event.

Fears have also been expressed regarding Japan's low vaccination rate.

The IOC has claimed it expects 80 per cent of people inside the Athletes' Village to have been vaccinated or be in the process of inoculation before the Games open on July 23.

By Liam Morgan 

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