At least 75% of residents of the Olympic village of the Tokyo Games “have already been vaccinated or planned to do so” before the Olympics, reassured IOC President Thomas Bach on Wednesday, when Japan fears the health risks they are doing weigh on the country.
The Tokyo Olympics will be the Vaccination Games where they will not be. In response to growing concern among the Japanese, IOC President Thomas Bach assured Wednesday that at least 75% of residents of the Olympic Village for the Tokyo Games “have already been vaccinated or are planning to do so” before the competition .
“We have good reason to believe that this rate will rise well beyond 80%,” added the president of the International Olympic Committee during an online meeting with the Japanese organizers of the Games.
The IOC is ready to provide additional medical personnel for the Games, Bach said, as many Japanese fear the event will put further pressure on the archipelago’s health system. “The IOC proposed to the Organizing Committee to integrate additional medical staff into the delegations of the NOCs” (National Olympic Committees), said Mr. Bach.
This additional staff “will support medical operations and the strict implementation of anti-Covid measures in the Olympic Village and at Olympic venues,” he continued. Thomas Bach did not give details of how many people might be involved. The organizers will accept this offer, reacted the president of Tokyo-2020, Seiko Hashimoto, adding that the vaccination of the participants “would be of great help to ensure the safety of the Games”.
A little more than two months before the opening of the Olympics which had been postponed for a year in 2020 because of the pandemic, Tokyo and other Japanese departments remain subject to a state of health emergency. Most Japanese want the Olympics to be postponed again or canceled, polls show. Japan is currently experiencing a new wave of coronavirus infections and authorities are strongly criticized for the slowness of the national vaccination campaign.
But the organizers of the Games say that strict measures, including the establishment of a health “bubble”, regular tests and the ban on spectators coming from abroad enacted at the end of March, will guarantee the safety of the event.
The IOC president was forced to cancel a visit to Tokyo this week due to the extension of the state of emergency in Japan, but he showed confidence during his videoconference with Japanese organizers and officials.
“The most important principle is very clear: the Olympic Village is a safe place and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in a safe manner,” he said.
Mr. Bach noted that sports competitions have been held around the world without incident. He also referred to recent tests in Japan, especially with international athletes, which did not cause infections.
“Athletes participating in the tests had to face many restrictions – quarantine, daily tests, no public transport, virtually no contact with the Japanese population – in order to protect the Japanese population,” he said. “Athletes are ready to make these sacrifices because they understand that safety comes first.”
The agenda for the coordination meeting, which started on Wednesday and will end on Friday, would be “very concrete-oriented”, Bach said. “We need to focus on making these Olympic Games safe and secure because the Opening Ceremony is only 65 days away.”