• Kyodo

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Saitama Prefecture authorities from April will launch a project aimed at offering homestays to families of foreign athletes competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The homestay project in the prefecture, where Olympic basketball, soccer, golf and shooting events are to take place, will help the families secure lodging while promoting intercultural exchanges, officials said.

“I hope it would be an opportunity for athletes’ families to experience the lifestyles of Saitama and make friends with local people so they can cheer together,” said prefectural official Yuichi Saito.

The prefecture will try to find accommodations for up to 500 people by soliciting recipient households through entities such as the Saitama International Association and by developing a system that can match up the families with a host.

Saitama would be the first town, city or prefecture in Japan to start a homestay project to accommodate families of foreign athletes competing in the Summer Games, officials said.

The Saitama Prefectural Government said it has decided to take the initiative as there have been cases in past Olympics where such families found it difficult to find places to stay when competition schedules were decided at the last minute.

Of the 80 or so entities, including sports federations and governments, surveyed by the Saitama Prefectural Government, many welcomed the homestay idea, according to the officials.