• Kyodo News

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It was simply a coincidence that more than 5,000 public elementary school students in Koto Ward, Tokyo, were on hand when an evaluation team from the International Olympic Committee turned up at a park last week, ward officials insisted Wednesday.

The ward said the students “happened to” go to Yumenoshima (Dream Island) park on a field trip the same day as the IOC visit.

But a group opposing Tokyo’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics claims it was a disguised attempt to “mobilize” students to use them as “plants to welcome” the IOC.

“Worried about being criticized, the ward probably insisted that it was a field trip and did not explain (about the IOC team visit) to the students,” a member of the group said.

The students were seen welcoming the IOC team during Friday’s visit to the park, which would be used for archery under Tokyo’s Olympics venue plan. Tokyo’s bid committee told a press conference the team was “welcomed by smiling children and people at the places they went.”

Koto Ward’s general affairs division said the field trip and the IOC team visit “were not related.”

“It was by chance that the events took place on the same day, and there is no need to explain it to the students,” an official of the division claimed.

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