A visually impaired Paralympian was struck by an autonomous bus in the Athletes’ Village in Tokyo, suffering from head and leg injuries, Japanese media reported on Friday.
Toyota, which developed the autonomous shuttles used at the complex, said it had suspended operation of the vehicles after the accident on Thursday afternoon.
One of its electric buses “came into contact with a visually impaired pedestrian” on a crosswalk, Toyota said in a statement.
“We deeply apologize for those who suffered injuries. We are fully cooperating with the police in this matter, ”the company added.
Several major local media have named the injured pedestrian Japanese judo athlete Aramitsu Kitazono.
The 30-year-old has fallen and will need two weeks to recover from his injuries after being treated at the village clinic, according to reports.
Tokyo 2020 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kitazono was scheduled to compete in the men’s 81kg division on Saturday. It was not known if his injuries meant he couldn’t fight.
According to the Japanese daily Asahi, two bus operators – on board to oversee autonomous driving – said they noticed the athlete, but believed he would stop walking as the bus approached.
The Mainichi daily said the bus stopped automatically but operators pressed the start button because they didn’t think it would go out on the road.
Five passengers were on board but no one was injured, Asahi said, adding that the athlete was not holding a cane and there was a traffic control officer at the crossing.
Thousands of athletes and team officials are staying at the Paralympic Village for the virus-delayed Games which began on Tuesday.
Autonomous buses were also used in the Athletes’ Village during the Olympics.
© 2021 AFP