Australia

One week out from the Olympics and Tokyo’s COVID figures hit a new high

Just one week out from the Olympics host city Tokyo has reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in almost six months.

The surging numbers came on the same day that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach paid a courtesy call in Tokyo on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Mr Suga and Mr Bach have both pledged that the Tokyo Olympics will be “safe and secure” despite the Games opening with Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures under a government-imposed state of emergency.

Tokyo reported 1,149 new cases on Wednesday, the highest since 1,184 were reported almost six months ago on January 22.

The new fiures also marked the 25th straight day that cases were higher than they were a week earlier.

Mr Suga asked Mr Bach to ensure that the Olympics will be safe, particularly for the Japanese public, of which fewer than 20 per cent are fully vaccinated.

“To gain the understanding of our people, and also for the success of the Tokyo 2020 Games, it is absolutely necessary that all participants take appropriate actions and measures including countermeasures against the pandemic,” Mr Suga told Mr Bach.

IOC President Thomas Bach (left) met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ahead of the Olympics.(

AP: Kimimasa Mayama

)

Mr Bach replied: “We’d like to reaffirm all our commitment on the side of the Olympic community to do everything, that we do not bring any risks to the Japanese people.”

Mr Bach told the Prime Minister that 85 per cent of the athletes and officials living in the Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will be fully vaccinated.

He said almost 100 per cent of IOC members and IOC staff were “vaccinated or immune.” The IOC also says between 70-80 per cent of international medical representatives were vaccinated.

The IOC and Tokyo organisers last week banned fans from all venues in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures. A few outlying venues will allow some spectators, and fans from abroad were banned month ago.

About 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of others will enter Japan for the Olympics. The Paralympics will add about 4,400 more athletes.

Japan has attributed about 15,000 deaths to COVID-19, a number low by many standards but not as good as most of its Asian neighbours.

The Olympic torch relay has also been pulled from Tokyo streets, with the Tokyo government fearing the relay would draw crowds and circulate the virus.

The opening ceremony is July 23 at Tokyo’s new $1.8 billion National Stadium.

Mr Bach is expected to travel Friday to Hiroshima, and his Australian vice-President John Coates to Nagasaki to use those two cities as backdrops for promoting the Games.

Olympics to be ‘well-appreciated’, IOC boss says

Mr Bach arrived in Tokyo last week and spent the first three days self-isolating in the five-star hotel that the IOC uses for its headquarters in Tokyo.

The IOC is pushing ahead with the Olympics, despite opposition in much of the Japanese medical community, partly because it is dependent for almost 75 per cent of its income on the sale of broadcasting rights.

A person in a white t-shirt bearing the Tokyo Olympics logo holding the golden Olympic torch
IOC President Thomas Bach said Japanese people will “have to gain confidence” from the protective measures in place at the games.(

AP: Thanassis Stavrakis

)

Mr Bach later acknowledged the IOC “always knew that there is this skepticism” among the Japanese people but that they “have to gain confidence” from the protective measures in place.

“You have already seen in the last couple of weeks it’s changing slowly but surely,” the IOC leader told international media in a conference call.

Mr Bach also revealed he had doubts “every day” about the Games going ahead in the 15 months since they were postponed but to voice them would have disrupted athletes preparing to qualify and compete.

“The challenge was that you could not speak about this,” he said.

“This could or would have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They (athletes) trusted us.”

Meanwhile, a coronavirus cluster emerged at a hotel where dozens of Brazilian Olympic team members are staying. 

Seven staff at the hotel in Hamamatsu city, southwest of Tokyo, had tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said.

But a 31-strong Brazilian Olympic delegation, which includes judo athletes, are in a “bubble” in the hotel and separated from other guests and have not been infected.

The Russian women’s rugby sevens team were also in isolation after their masseur tested positive for COVID-19, the RIA news agency reported from Moscow — as was part of the South African men’s rugby team after a case on their inbound flight.

Participants to put on their own medals

In another measure aimed at preventing the the spread of COVID-19, athletes will put their medals around their own necks.

“The medals will not be given around the neck,” Mr Bach told international media on a conference call from Tokyo.

Womens_K4_Team
Athletes may not be socially distanced during events but they will be from anyone presenting medals.(

Supplied: Shannon Reynolds

)

“They will be presented to the athlete on a tray and then the athlete will take the medal him or herself.”

Mr Bach confirmed that “there will be no hand shakes and there will be no hugs there during the ceremony”.

Olympic medals are typically presented by an IOC member or a leading official in a sport’s governing body.

The IOC had previously said medalists and ceremony officials would have to wear masks.

AP/Reuters

Loading form…


Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: