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Towns throughout Japan that were slated to host athletes for the Tokyo Olympic Games have pulled out due to concerns about social distancing protocols, according to the Associated Free Press.

Over 500 municipalities had signed up to host athletes, however, many are now backing out as athletes will not be able to interact with locals, or attend events in the community due to the coronavirus pandemic. The idea was to broaden the reach of the Olympic Games beyond the city of Tokyo.

Some towns continue to look forward to hosting various teams.

As part of each stay, some locations have spent money upgrading facilities. Without the ability to attend school and community events and showcase their world-class skills many towns are reneging on hosting.

Chef de Mission Loroupe concerned about Olympic Refugee Team

Tegla Loroupe the chef de mission for the Olympic Refugee Team is concerned about refugees that seek a fresh start outside of their home country. They seek citizenship elsewhere, however, wish to compete as part of the refugee team.

Loroupe says endorsing athletes who have left Kenya for Europe by selecting them to the refugee team going to Tokyo could also damage the future of the project, especially for African competitors.

“We could lose some of the partners, which is not good for the project and the upcoming athletes,” she pointed out.

“The government and embassies are also partners, it’s like you are just playing around with the support of the nation.”

Sponsors of the refugee team project include the International Olympic Committee, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR), and the governments of France, Kenya, and Qatar.

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