Olympic Games chief Thomas Bach on Wednesday pledged to the Games to “avoid any danger” to Japan, trying to reassure the skeptical public that the viral cases will rise a week before Tokyo 2020 begins. Fans have been banned from the capital’s Olympic events, which are under emergency restrictions to increase the number of infections that hit record highs since January. As more athletes arrive in Japan and travel to the Olympic Country, Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee, promised them safe games in the summer.
“We are making every effort and the Japanese are fully committed to helping us in the best way to fight the virus and not endangering the Japanese,” Bach told Reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Bach received “85% of the total population in the Olympic Village and almost 100% of the members and staff of the COI who came here to Tokyo were vaccinated.
“That’s why I would humbly ask you to welcome the Japanese to athletes around the world who, like the people of Japan, have overcome so many challenges.”
There has been a more severe outbreak of Covid-19 in Japan than in many other countries, with an estimated 15,000 deaths overall, but experts have warned that another wave driven by more infectious variants could extend medical facilities.
About 20% of the population is fully integrated, and emergency measures in Tokyo, especially by limiting alcohol sales and restaurant hours, will be in place during the Games.
On Wednesday, 1,149 new cases were registered in Tokyo, the highest since January 22.
In opinion polls, people in Japan have constantly expressed fear about Tokyo 2020, which was delayed by a year due to the Pandemic and will finally open on July 23rd.
Organizers last week announced a decision to ban spectators from all but the Olympic event, after experts repeatedly warned them about the risk of crowds gathering as the infection rises.
Questions “every day”
In an exchange with major world news agencies on Wednesday, Bach said his team had made a confident effort to postpone Tokyo 2020 after being delayed in March last year.
“During these 15 months, we had doubts every day. It was a situation of great uncertainty,” he said.
“Actually, it was way more complex than we thought when we agreed to that delay.”
But by projecting trust and taking decisions seriously, the COI kept other parties on its side, starting with Athletes and sports federations and local authorities, Bach said.
“Just because they’re all left on the board, we can be here now nine days before the Games open.”
The U.S. softball team went to the Olympics on Wednesday, local media said, as the complex opened and was often seen at the Games the next day without a welcoming ceremony or media opportunity.
The arrival of the Olympic refugee team was delayed after a Doha official tested positive, the IOC said. All of the athletes on the team said no.
While in Japan, athletes will be subject to strict virus rules and eating at local restaurants or having contact with the public is prohibited.
Olympic officials on Wednesday pointed out that a small percentage of people who came to Japan for the event were positive for the virus.
Of the more than 8,000 people who arrived between July 1 and 13, three tested positive after arrival and were isolated, even close relationships are “subject to the corresponding Quarantine measures,” the IOC said.
Although Tokyo 2020 will not have the same celebratory atmosphere as the previous Olympics, Bach said it will play audio from the crowd at the past Games to encourage athletes to watch TV from around the world on the virtual “applause” map.
Bach is scheduled to travel to Hiroshima on Friday, denying he was politically motivated on the visit, saying the first day of the OIO Olympics will show the COI’s “commitment to peace.”
The truce, approved by the United Nations, aims to stop all hostilities by allowing athletes and spectators to pass safely and participate in the Games.
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