World needs Olympics as celebration of hope, says WHO boss

T

he Tokyo Games should go ahead to demonstrate what can be achieved with the right measures amid the pandemic, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom has said.

The Games are set to officially start on Friday but many, including residents and health workers in Tokyo, have questioned their safety, with thousands of foreigners expected to arrive into the country.

Despite the concerns and the number of sportsmen and women who’ve been forced to pull out of the tournament after contracting Covid – Tedros said the world needed the Olympics now “as a celebration of hope”.

Speaking to the International Olympic Committee members at a session in the Japanese capital, he added: “The Olympics have the power to bring the world together, to inspire, to show what’s possible,” he said.

“May the rays of hope from this land illuminate a new dawn for a healthy, safer and fairer world,” he said, holding aloft an Olympic Games torch. “It is my sincere hope the Tokyo Games succeed.”

Tedros also criticised the vaccine discrepancies between countries.

He said the pandemic could be ended if G20 economies showed collective leadership and there was a fairer distribution of vaccines.

Japan has so far vaccinated just 34 per cent of the population with at least one dose. The lack of vaccinations and growing Covid infections forced the country to decide that participants would compete in empty venues to minimise health risks. There have already been 67 cases of infections in the country among those accredited for the Games since July 1, despite strict entry measures.

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