• REUTERS

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Many schools near Tokyo are shunning Olympic and Paralympic events, cancelling more than half the 280,000 tickets reserved for them amid worries that the games could further spread COVID-19, a Japanese daily said Sunday.

About 60% of the discount tickets intended for municipalities to purchase for their schoolchildren have been cancelled in the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

The Tokyo metropolitan board of education plans to ask each municipality within the capital if it still intends to send schoolchildren to the games, the paper said, without citing sources.

As of August 2019, before the pandemic, the host city expected about 900,000 of its students to watch the games under the program, it added.

No officials from Tokyo 2020 organizers or at four local governments were immediately available for comment.

The central government lifted a coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo and eight other prefectures this month, but there were signs in recent weeks that infections may be on the rise again. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has urged the public to watch the games on television.

Overseas spectators are barred from the international extravaganza, and organizers have capped venue capacity at 50% with a maximum of 10,000 people. School children and their supervisors, however, are not subject to this rule.

The Tokyo Olympics are set to start on July 23 after a year’s delay due to the pandemic.

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