Lausanne: International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday that the organisation is ready to send medical staff to Tokyo for this year’s Olympic Games to support coronavirus countermeasures.
The IOC and local organisers are pressing ahead with the Games despite opposition in Japan amid the pandemic.
Bach told a video conference on the first day of a three-day coordination commission meeting that the IOC plans to dispatch additional medical personnel “to support the medical operations and the strict implementation of Covid-19 countermeasures in the Olympic Village and Olympic venues”.
The meeting is the last between the IOC commission and Japanese organisers before the opening of the Games on July 23.
The IOC chief’s words come at a time when doctors and nurses in Japan have expressed strong opposition to the Games with hospitals overwhelmed by rising numbers of coronavirus infections.
Governors of Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures neighbouring Tokyo also said they have no plan to provide hospital beds to Olympians infected with the coronavirus.
Japanese people complain about the extremely slow pace of the vaccination in Japan. Only 1.6 per cent of the country’s 125 million population has been fully vaccinated since the beginning of the vaccination effort in mid-February.
Tokyo has been under another Covid-19 state of emergency since late April as the Japanese capital has been struggling to curb a fourth wave of infections.
The measure has also been imposed on eight other prefectures and it is scheduled to end on May 31.
Last week, Japan expanded the state of emergency to the nine prefectures, including Hiroshima, where Bach was scheduled to participate in a torch relay event on Monday. His trip to the region, however, was cancelled due to surging infections there.
Bach said more than 80 per cent of the residents in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated by the time of the Olympics.
“The most important principle is very clear: The Olympic Village is a safe place and Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be organised in a safe way,” Bach said.
“We must concentrate on the delivery of these safe and secure Olympic Games because the opening ceremony is only 65 days away,” he said.