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IOC chief Bach offers Tokyo medical help to deal with COVID-19 situation

Thomas Bach. Photo: Facebook

Lausanne (Switzerland), May 19 (MNN) International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach on Wednesday offered to send medical staff to Tokyo Olympics to deal with the COVID-19 situation when the games open in just over nine weeks.

The IOC chief gave few details, speaking remotely at the opening of three days of meetings between the IOC and local organisers. He said the help would come from various national Olympic committees and be available in the Olympic Village and the sports venues.

In his 12-minute address, Bach attempted to assure the Japanese public and athletes coming to Tokyo that the IOC will hold “safe and secure” Olympics in the midst of the pandemic.

“For obvious reasons we cannot give them (athletes) every detail yet, but the most important principle is very clear: the Olympic Village is a safe place and the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be organised in a safe way,” Bach said.

Bach said he anticipated more than 80 per cent of those staying in the Olympic Village would be vaccinated.

Bach appeared to be responding to one of the strongest demands so far to call off the postponed Olympics.

The 6,000-member Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association called for the Olympics to be cancelled in a letter sent last week to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa, and Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the organising committee.

The letter was made public this week on the group’s website. “We believe the correct choice is to cancel an event that has the possibility of increasing the numbers of infected people and deaths,” the letter said.

The Olympics are slated to open on July 23. The Paralympics follow on August 24. They are a financial imperative for the IOC, which derives about 75 per cent of its incomes from selling television rights and another 18 per cent from sponsorship.

Japan is battling a new wave of coronavirus infections and its own vaccine rollout has been criticised as slow.

The survey found 43 per cent of respondents want the games cancelled and 40 per cent want a further postponement due to the coronavirus situation in the country.

Only 14 per cent support holding the games as scheduled, which was down from 28 per cent recorded in another survey last month.

There is no indication the games will be cancelled, though opposition continues with small street protests and online petition drives.

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