B-N Sister Cities Cancels Japan Trip Amid Coronavirus Worries | WGLT

B-N Sister Cities Cancels Japan Trip Amid Coronavirus Worries

Mar 4, 2020

Concerns over the coronavirus have prompted Bloomington-Normal Sister Cities to cancel this year's junior ambassador trip.

Fifteen students in grades seven through 10 were scheduled to spend two weeks in Asahikawa, Japan, in June.

Participants in the Bloomington-Normal Sister Cities program pose for a photo at Sister Cities Forest (Mihonrin Mominoki Park) in Asahikawa, Japan.
Credit Darren Sampson

Chair Darren Sampson said the committee chose to mirror the decision its sister city made not to send students to Bloomington-Normal later this month for fear of spreading the virus.

“They are experiencing a much higher degree or alert and we just wanted to follow suit with the same level of support from our side for that situation,” Sampson said.

He said Sister Cities’ trips have been canceled in the past due to the weather. He said they’ve learned to err on the side of caution.

“We tend to play it a little conservative and that’s OK with us because the last thing we want is to have our brand or our mission interrupted because we spread the virus to Japan or inversely they spread the virus to us,” Sampson said.

Sampson said each of the students will get the chance to apply to go to Japan next year, but there will still be only 15 spots.

He said the two Sister Cities are discussing whether the two high school students currently participating in the foreign exchange program should stay until the summer or come home early.

The number of COVD-19 cases has topped 90,000 globally, including 1,000 in Japan.

The virus has been blamed for at least 3,200 deaths worldwide, including nine in the United States and 12 in Japan.

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