Bach says virus rules ‘working’ ahead of Tokyo Games

Friday, July 16th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya spriners Mark Otieno and Ferdinand Omanyala arriver at the team’s Kurume Camp in Japan. Photo/PD/FILE

Tokyo, Thursday

Olympics chief Thomas Bach said Thursday that Tokyo Games anti-virus rules “are working”, as the Japanese capital recorded its highest number of new infections since January.

With just over a week until Tokyo 2020 opens for events mostly behind closed doors, organisers insist they can be held safely as long as athletes, officials and journalists adhere to strict anti-virus regulations.

But an athlete in Japan tested positive for the virus along with five Olympic workers, mostly contractors, as Tokyo recorded 1,308 new cases.

The news came as it emerged that eight staff at a Japanese hotel hosting Brazil’s Olympic judo team had tested positive, and a staff member from Russia’s rugby sevens team was hospitalised after a positive test.

Bach said a trip to the Olympic Village on Thursday morning had convinced him that anti-virus rules are “in place, and they are working, and they are enforced”.

“We could see and convince ourselves that all the delegations are following the rules and are supporting the rules, because they know it is in their own interest to be safe,” he said at a meeting with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

“It’s in their interest and in solidarity with the people of Tokyo.”

The capital is currently under a virus state of emergency, less strict than a blanket lockdown, which limits alcohol sales and curbs restaurant opening hours. The measures will continue throughout the Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 said six people, including an athlete, several contractors and a Games staffer had tested positive for the virus on July 13 and 14. They gave no further details on the identity of the six people.

The cases underscore the challenges ahead for organisers, although they note that only a handful of cases have been detected so far among more than 8,000 people who have entered Japan since July 1.

Bach said measures taken to deal with these positive cases mean “the risk for the other residents of the Olympic Village, and the risk for the Japanese people is zero”.

The cluster among staff at the hotel west of Tokyo where Brazil’s Olympic judo team are staying was found during virus screenings carried out before around 30 members of their delegation arrived on Saturday.

None of the infected staff came into contact with the athletes, local health and sports officials said.    -AFP

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