YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
The 42nd annual Kanto Plains Special Olympics commenced this year with a new mitigation plan to protect athletes and combat the spread of COVID-19, May 22.
The KPSO seeks to create a new world of inclusion and community, where every person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability.
“So many years ago, our Noncommissioned Officers Association began the KPSO and I’m proud that we’re able to continue this tradition even amid this year’s pandemic challenges,” said Col. Andrew J. Campbell, 374th Airlift Wing Commander. “Because of the pandemic, these special opportunities we have to get together with our community are all the more special to us and I appreciate all of you being here today. I appreciate the volunteers here today, and I appreciate the brave athletes.”
The mitigation plan enacted by the KPSO committee required all attendees to sign a form ensuring they would abide by certain restrictions for the safety of the participants, for example, agreeing to have one’s temperature taken before entering the event, wearing a mask, and sanitizing equipment before and after use.
In addition to the previous precautions, the volunteers wore gloves before interacting with anything the athletes came in contact with, enforced physical distancing measures, as well as setting up sanitation stations to clean softballs, soccer balls and throwing discs, all in order to reduce the potential spread of COVID.
“A year ago, like most wing events, the 2020 Special Olympics was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Master Sgt. Casey Jones, 2021 KPSO director. “We were confused and disappointed but through hard work and determination our KPSO planners and volunteers came together and assembled this event.”
This is one of many ways forward in a new normal, establishing a method for a community to enjoy events and large gatherings, while still maintaining health standards and observing guidelines given by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.