The Olympic Rings monument is seen outside the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) headquarters near the National Stadium, the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan June 23, 2021 on the day to mark one month until the opening of the Olympic Games. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO, June 27 (Reuters) – 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 on Sunday.

About 60{13aab5633489a05526ae1065595c074aeca3e93df6390063fabaebff206207ec} of the discount tickets intended for municipalities to purchase for their school children have been cancelled in the neighbouring 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 school children 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 programme, it added.

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

The Japanese 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 organisers have capped venue capacity at 50{13aab5633489a05526ae1065595c074aeca3e93df6390063fabaebff206207ec} 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.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by William Mallard

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