THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
August 27, 2021 at 19:10 JST
Driverless electric vehicles called "e-Palette," developed by Toyota Motor Corp., are used as a means of transportation in the athletes’ village for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
A Japanese Paralympic judoka on Aug. 26 was hit by a self-driving vehicle inside the athletes’ village, suffering injuries that will require two weeks to recover, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
Aramitsu Kitazono, 30, is scheduled to compete in the men’s judo’s 81-kilogram division for the visually impaired on Aug. 28.
The Tokyo Paralympic organizer is investigating the matter.
Kitazono was crossing a pedestrian crosswalk in the village that connects residential facilities and main dining halls at around 2 p.m. on Aug. 26.
Then, a large electric vehicle made a right turn into the crosswalk and hit Kitazono.
Kitazono struck his head and both legs and received treatment at a clinic inside the village, police said.
The vehicle is called “e-Palette,” developed by Toyota Motor Corp.
The automaker, as a Worldwide Paralympic Partner, has provided many e-Palette as a means of transportation for athletes staying in the village.
It is automatically driven.
When the accident occurred, two e-Palette operators and five passengers were in the vehicle. None of them was injured, police said.
There was a security personnel present to direct traffic at the crosswalk when the accident occurred.
Vehicle operators have told investigators that they “were aware that a person was there but thought (the person) would (realize that a bus was coming) and stop crossing the (street),” police said.
Kitazono competed in the 2012 London Paralympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.
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