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Japan gov’t to cover virus costs for Tokyo Olympic “host towns”

TOKYO — The Japanese government is considering shouldering most of the costs for anti-virus measures and testing in municipalities hosting overseas athletes for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.


The Japan Sports Agency is in the process of allocating about 13 billion yen ($125 million), earmarked in the planned third supplementary budget for the current fiscal year ending March, to support municipalities participating in the government’s “Host Town” initiative, the sources said.


The initiative, a first-of-its-kind program for the Olympics and Paralympics, encourages Japanese municipalities to welcome athletes from abroad for training camps and cultural exchanges. Around 500 municipalities have registered to host athletes from about 180 countries and regions, according to the government.


Japan revealed last week that the additional costs for postponing the games by a year are estimated at 198 billion yen, while the virus countermeasures will cost an extra 96 billion yen. However, the amount did not include the cost of host towns’ anti-virus measures.


Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto has said it is the “responsibility” of the government to shoulder the cost of virus countermeasures for the host towns.


Municipalities have been urged by the government to implement strict measures against the virus in order to protect the health of visiting athletes and officials.


The government is considering shouldering the cost of virus testing for athletes as well as local people who may come into contact with them, the sources said.


The extra budget is also expected to cover the fees for seat reservations on public transport and the booking of extra space in hotels so athletes do not come into contact with other people.


According to a government guideline released in November, each host town must compile a manual including anti-virus measures. They are also required to sign agreements with officials of the country or region whose athletes they are hosting.

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