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IOC chief lauds ‘peace’ message regardless of athletes testing COVID-19 optimistic

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Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto signs her autograph on a mural set up to wish for a truce in warring areas of the world during the Olympic Games while IOC President Thomas Bach looks on, at the athletes village in Tokyo, Japan July 19, 2021. Photo: Kyodo/via Reuters
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto indicators her autograph on a mural set as much as want for a truce in warring areas of the world throughout the Olympic Video games whereas IOC President Thomas Bach seems on, on the athletes’ village in Tokyo, Japan July 19, 2021. Picture: Kyodo/through Reuters 
  • Thomas Bach says organisers may by no means have imagined the “unpredented challenges” to bringing the worldwide sports activities occasion to Tokyo.
  • Organisers promise to maintain the Video games “safe and secure” with an Olympic “bubble” that limits members’ actions.
  • There have been 67 instances of COVID-19 infections in Japan amongst these accredited for the Video games since July 1.

TOKYO: Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach mentioned on Tuesday the Tokyo Video games would ship a robust message of “peace and solidarity” regardless of the excessive variety of athletes testing optimistic for the coronavirus.

The Video games, postponed final 12 months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, open on Friday however can be with out spectators after Japan’s resolution earlier this month to go away venues empty to minimise the danger of infections.

Two members of Mexico’s Olympic baseball crew examined optimistic for COVID-19 on the crew lodge earlier than their departure for the Tokyo Olympics, the nation’s baseball federation mentioned.

The athletes, Hector Velazquez and Sammy Solis, who examined optimistic on July 18, have been remoted, as have all crew members pending outcomes of extra exams, it mentioned.

Bach, talking after a second of silence at an IOC session the place he was joined by Japan’s prime minister, mentioned organisers may by no means have imagined the “unpredented challenges” to bringing the worldwide sports activities occasion to Tokyo.

“We could only overcome all these challenges for the Olympic Games because throughout the past eight years we were enjoying a trustful partnership (with Japan). We could always rely on you,” he mentioned.

Feedback by Bach and different IOC officers have within the runup to the Video games sparked outrage on social media in Japan for showing to dismiss considerations in regards to the pandemic.

As COVID-19 instances rise in Tokyo, public concern has grown that internet hosting an occasion with tens of hundreds of abroad athletes, officers and journalists may speed up an infection charges in Japan’s capital and introduce variants which can be extra infectious or deadlier.

Organisers have promised to maintain the Video games “safe and secure” with an Olympic “bubble” that limits members’ actions and mandates frequent testing, however specialists see gaps.

The primary main check of how an Olympics might be held within the midst of a pandemic might effectively come on Thursday within the males’s soccer match when Japan face a South Africa aspect that would battle to area 11 gamers as a result of novel coronavirus.

Burst “bubble”?

“It’s obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken,” mentioned Kenji Shibuya, the previous director of the Institute for Inhabitants Well being at King’s Faculty London.

“My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the (athletes’) village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people,” Shibuya added.

There have been 67 instances of COVID-19 infections in Japan amongst these accredited for the Video games since July 1, when many athletes and officers began arriving, organisers mentioned on Tuesday. That didn’t embody these at native coaching camps.

Japan has recorded greater than 838,000 instances of COVID-19 and round 15,000 deaths. Host metropolis Tokyo is experiencing a contemporary surge, with the seven-day shifting common of instances at simply over 1,100 as of Monday.

A rocky vaccination rollout has added to considerations. About one-third of Japan’s inhabitants has had at the least one vaccination shot and about 22% are absolutely vaccinated, one of many lowest charges amongst rich nations.

Days earlier than the opening ceremony in Tokyo, 68% of respondents in an Asahi newspaper ballot expressed doubt in regards to the means of Olympic organisers to manage coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they had been against the Video games going forward.

Bach praised the “heroic efforts” of medical personnel and volunteers around the globe amid the pandemic, and mentioned that cancelling the Video games had by no means been an possibility for organisers.

“The IOC never abandons the athletes. Therefore, we took an unprecedented decision to postpone the Games (last year). Today I can admit we did not know how complex this would be,” he mentioned.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga – who has seen his assist fee slide since he took workplace final September, largely as a consequence of his dealing with of the pandemic — mentioned organisers would do the whole lot essential for secure Video games even with out spectators.

“But the significance of Tokyo will not be reduced by this,” Suga mentioned in a quick handle. “Now is the time to unite.”

Bach additionally mentioned that World Well being Group Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus can be in Tokyo on Wednesday to “share his thoughts with us in a keynote speech”.

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