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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

WHO Director General: Risk of COVID-19 Inescapable at Tokyo Olympics

Director General of the World Health Organization (World Health Organization/WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that the Tokyo Olympics should not be judged on the number of emerging COVID-19 cases because eliminating the risk of having the virus is impossible.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his speech at the International Olympic Committee meeting stressed how infection cases are handled is of the utmost importance.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, attended the meeting in Geneva. (Photo: AP)

“The sign of success is ensuring that every case is identified, isolated, tracked and treated as quickly as possible and further transmission is cut off,” he said, as quoted by Associated Press, Wednesday (21/7).

The number of COVID-19 cases linked to the Olympics in Japan this month reached 79 as of Wednesday (21/7). More international athletes tested positive in their respective countries and were unable to travel.

“The sign of success in the next two weeks is not zero cases,” Tedros said. He noted a number of athletes have tested positive in Japan, including in the athletes’ village in Tokyo Bay, where most of the 11,000 people will live.

Health experts in Japan have warned the Olympics to be a “super-spreader” event as it gathers tens of thousands of athletes, officials and workers during the local state of emergency.

“There is no zero risk in life,” said Tedros, who began his keynote address minutes after the first softball game began in Fukushima. He added that Japan “gives courage to the whole world.”

WHO leaders also have a more critical message and challenge for leaders of rich countries about sharing vaccines more equitably in the world.

“The pandemic is a test and the world is failing,” Tedros said, predicting that more than 100,000 people would die from COVID-19 worldwide before the Olympic torch flame was extinguished in Tokyo on Aug. 8. [ah/au/ft]

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