TOKYO (AP) – The Tokyo Olympics should not be judged on the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because elimination of risks is impossible, the head of the World Health Organization told officials on Wednesday sports as events began in Japan.
How infections are managed is what matters most, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee.
“The mark of success is to ensure that all cases are identified, isolated, located and treated as quickly as possible and that transmission is interrupted,” he said.
The number of Games-related COVID-19 cases in Japan this month was 79 on Wednesday, with more international athletes testing positive at home and unable to travel.
“The mark of success in the next fortnight is not zero cases,” Tedros said, noting athletes who have already tested positive in Japan, including at Tokyo Bay Athletes’ Village, where most of the 11,000 competitors will remain.
Teammates classified as close contacts of infected athletes can continue to train and prepare for events under a regime of isolation and additional surveillance.
Health experts in Japan have warned that the Olympics will become a “super-broadcaster” event bringing together tens of thousands of athletes, officials and workers during a local state of emergency.
“There is no zero risk in life,” said Tedros, who began his keynote address minutes after the first softball game started in Fukushima, and added that Japan “gave the world courage. whole”.
The WHO leader also had a more critical message and a challenge for leaders in richer countries regarding more equitable sharing of vaccines around the world.
“The pandemic is a test and the world is failing,” Tedros said, predicting more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths around the world before the Olympic flame went out in Tokyo on August 8.
It was a “horrible injustice”, he said, that 75% of the vaccines given in the world to date have been given in just 10 countries.
Tedros warned anyone who thought the pandemic was over because it was under control in their part of the world living in “a paradise for fools”.
The world is due to produce 11 billion doses next year, and the WHO wanted governments to help meet the goal of vaccinating 70% of people in each country by the middle of next year.
“The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it,” Tedros said. “It’s in our hands.”
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