The New Zealand delegation has given up participating in the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on Tuesday, August 24 (at 1 p.m. in France, or 8 p.m. in Japan), due to concerns related to the coronavirus, she said. announced as Japan is experiencing records of infections.
“Our team is not going to attend” at the ceremony due to its own “Rules and guidelines on Covid-19, intended to ensure as much as possible security” of its members, the delegation announced in a statement on Facebook.
New Zealand has put in place since the start of the pandemic a “zero Covid” strategy, with strict border control and targeted confinements, and has recorded only 26 deaths for a population of 5 million inhabitants.
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But the country, which had not noted any contamination for six months, finally put in place since last week a national containment in the face of the progression of the epidemic on its soil, recognizing that its strategy was threatened by the spread of the variant. Delta, more contagious.
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Organizers of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which will run through September 5, have reported 161 cases of Covid-19 linked to the event so far, mostly among staff residing in Japan, but which also include six sportsmen.
The only delegation not to parade
New Zealand is the only one of 162 Paralympic Games delegations to have confirmed that they are waiving the opening ceremony, International Paralympic Committee spokesperson Craig Spence told reporters.
“We must respect this decision”, he said, adding that the team, numbering 32 Paralympians, had told him of its wish to take all possible precautions despite the strict health measures already in place.
The Paralympic Games will not escape closed doors
Other countries have reduced their participation in the ceremony for various reasons including Covid-19 or concerns about the heat. “It’s a shame, but we respect [leur] decision and besides, it will probably shorten the ceremony ”, added Craig Spence.
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Japan has been experiencing a fifth wave of Covid-19 since June, which has worsened in recent weeks, with a new record of infections observed nationally on Friday August 20.