Olympics chief Thomas Bach pledged Wednesday “not to bring any risk” to Japan with the Games, seeking to reassure a sceptical public as virus cases surge just over a week before Tokyo 2020 begins.
Fans have been banned from Olympic events in the capital, which is under emergency virus restrictions to curb rising infection numbers that on Wednesday hit highs not seen since January.
As more athletes arrive in the country and move into the Olympic Village, International Olympic Committee chief Bach promised a safe summer Games.
“We are making all our efforts and the Japanese people have all our commitment to contribute in the best way to fight this virus and not to bring any risk to the Japanese people,” Bach told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
He said “85 percent of all the residents in the Olympic Village and almost 100 percent of the IOC members and staff coming here to Tokyo arrive vaccinated.
“This is why I’d like to humbly ask the Japanese people to warmly welcome the athletes from all around the world who have overcome, like the Japanese people, so many challenges.”
He thanked Japan for hosting the Games despite the coronavirus, calling Tokyo 2020 “historic” and praising the public’s efforts to overcome both the pandemic and the country’s deadly 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.