Thursday, April 23, 2009

5,000 elementary students planted to welcome IOC evaluation team

More than 5,000 public elementary school students in Tokyo’s Koto Ward were assembled at a park when an evaluation team from the International Olympic Committee visited last week without being told that the team would go there, officials of the Koto Ward said Wednesday.

The ward explained that the students “happened to” go to the Yumenoshima (Dream Island) park for a field trip on the same day of the IOC visit, but a group against Tokyo’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics said the move was apparently aimed at “mobilizing” students to use them as plants to welcome the IOC.

’’Worried about being criticized, the ward probably insisted that it was a field trip and did not explain (about the IOC team visit) to the students,’’ a member of the group said.

On Friday’s visit to the park, which would be used for archery under Tokyo’s Olympics venue plan, the IOC team was seen to be welcomed by the students and Tokyo’s Bid Committee told a press conference that the team was ‘‘welcomed by smiling children and people at the places they went.’’