Panel head wary of children at Paralympic venues

The head of the Japanese government's coronavirus advisory panel has advised against letting schoolchildren watch Paralympic events at the venues.

The organizers of the Tokyo Paralympics decided earlier this week that there will be no spectators at any of the venues for the events that start on August 24.

But at the same time, it was decided that schoolchildren in the four prefectures where Paralympic events will be held can attend some of them.

At a Diet committee session on Thursday, panel chief Omi Shigeru was asked by a lawmaker whether it is appropriate to allow children to watch from the stands.

Omi said he wants the organizers to make various decisions by taking into account the fact that the coronavirus situation is much worse than when the Olympics began in late July.

He said the conclusion to the debate about spectators should be obvious if such a situation is considered.

Asked what can be done about the continuing surge in cases, Omi called for boosting the healthcare system.
He said he wants authorities to set up more temporary medical facilities for coronavirus patients and to increase accommodation for those with mild or no symptoms.

Omi said the current situation requires the central and local governments to show more leadership than ever. He asked that they do everything possible under the special anti-coronavirus law. He said vaccinations are very important for curbing the spread of the virus but more measures are needed.