Visually Impaired Paralympian Hit by Self-driving Bus in Athletes’ Village


A visually impaired Paralympian was hit by a self-driving bus in the athletes’ village in Tokyo, suffering head and leg injuries, Japanese media said Friday. Toyota, which developed the autonomous shuttle buses used in the compound, said it had suspended operation of the vehicles after the accident on Thursday afternoon.

One of its electric buses “made contact with a pedestrian who is visually impaired” on a pedestrian crossing, Toyota said in a statement.

“We deeply apologise for those who suffered injuries. We are fully cooperating with the police on the case,” the company added.

Several major local media outlets named the injured pedestrian as Japanese judo athlete Aramitsu Kitazono.

The 30-year-old fell and and will need two weeks to recover from his injuries after being treated at the village’s clinic, the reports said.

Tokyo 2020 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kitazono was due to compete in the men’s 81-kilogram division on Saturday. It was unclear if his injuries meant he could not fight.

Two bus operators — on board to supervise the autonomous driving — said they noticed the athlete, but thought he would stop walking as the bus was approaching, according to Japan’s Asahi daily.

The Mainichi daily said the bus automatically stopped but the operators pressed the start button as they did not think he would walk out on to the road.

Five passengers were aboard but no one was injured, the Asahi said, adding that the athlete was not holding a cane and there was a traffic-control guard at the crossing.

Thousands of athletes and team officials are staying in the Paralympic Village for the virus-delayed Games that began on Tuesday.

The self-driving buses were also used in the athletes’ village during the Olympics.

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