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New Zealand Athletes Chose Not To Attend The Tokyo Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Max Sherry


New Zealand Athletes Chose Not To Attend The Tokyo Paralympics Opening Ceremony

When New Zealand's flag appeared inside Tokyo's Olympic Stadium during the Paralympic opening ceremony, there was something missing.

Despite the flag bearer being present during the parade, the rest of the Kiwi athletes were not.

It's understood New Zealand's Paralympic team decided not to attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo as COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise in the country.

Paralympic officials on the ground in Tokyo have already reported 161 new infections directly linked to the Games, including six cases coming from competitors.

With this in mind, Paralympics New Zealand announced that its athletes would not be taking part in the opening ceremony in a bid to reduce the risk of infections.

A statement from the county's governing body read: "Our team will not be attending as we continue our commitment to our COVID-19 Operating Principles and Guidelines, aimed at keeping our team as safe as possible."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

While New Zealand's athletes watched the ceremony from the comfort of their living quarters in the Paralympic village, 161 other delegations attended the parade.

"We've got to respect the decision," International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence said.

"We appreciate that the march is going to be a little shorter, there's going to be less athletes compared to normal Games.

"That's a shame, but we respect the decision and actually, it probably speeds up the ceremony."

While Japan's coronavirus cases continue to surge, New Zealand has continued to adopt their 'COVID Zero' strategy.

The country, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has just entered another national lockdown after recording a single case late last week.

That one infection, which has now grown to 148, ended a six-month run of zero locally-acquired cases in New Zealand.

"We do need more information; we need more certainty," Ardern said in a recent press conference.

"We don't want to take any risks with delta.

"For now, the elimination strategy is the right thing for New Zealand.

"Going into next year, let's continue to get advice. We are constantly learning, constantly adapting."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: New Zealand, tokyo paralympics, Coronavirus, Paralympics, Australia, Covid-19

Max Sherry
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