The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus strongly supports the Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed for one year due to the pandemic. Just a few days before the opening ceremony, the Olympic Games are facing continued opposition as the Delta variant is driving a new wave of COVID-19 around the world.
Ghebreyesus addressed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Tokyo, acknowledging the seriousness of the problems caused by the pandemic, but comparing the Olympic spirit with the need for cooperation from governments and people around the world to defeat the virus.
The head of the WHO said on Wednesday: “May these Olympics be a moment to unite the world, ignite the unity and determination we need to end the pandemic together, and vaccinate 70% of the population of each country by the middle of next year.”
“May the Olympic torch become a symbol of hope across the earth. May the light of hope in this sunrise area illuminate a new dawn for a healthier, safer, and fairer world.”
After the World Health Organization announced a pandemic in March last year, the Tokyo Olympics were forced to enter an unprecedented postponement. Organizers worked with WHO to launch a series of measures to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and ensure that the Olympics remain safe.
But the increasing number of cases around the world and Japan has weakened public confidence and increased opposition to upcoming events.
Tokyo recorded 1,387 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to more than 840,000. Approximately 15,055 people in Japan have died of this disease, and more than 4.1 million people worldwide have died of the disease.
Dozens of cases have been linked to the Olympics, including some athletes, which has further weakened public trust in efforts to mitigate the coronavirus.
“The epidemic is a test. The world is failing,” Ghebreyesus said at the IOC meeting.
“More than 4 million people have died, and many more continue to die. This year, the number of deaths has more than doubled the total last year. In the time I make these remarks, more than 100 people will die from COVID-19. By the time the Olympic flame goes out on August 8, more than 100,000 people will be killed.”
He pointed out that people all over the world are “tired” of the virus and hope that the pandemic will end, but he said that this is unlikely to happen unless more people in more countries are vaccinated.
“The threat will not end anywhere until it ends anywhere,” he said. “Anyone who thinks that the pandemic is over, because where they live is over, this is living in a fool’s paradise.”
Speaking of richer countries, the head of the WHO said that the world has not fully utilized the vaccines that have been developed, and only 75% of the vaccines have been injected in 10 countries. He said that in low-income countries, only 1% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while in high-income countries, the proportion is more than half.
He said that the vaccine was “concentrated in the hands of a few lucky people”, adding that the failure to share vaccines, tests and treatments is exacerbating the dual-track pandemic, which is not only “moral outrage” but may also increase the risks that arise. . A new and perhaps more deadly variant of the coronavirus.
He said: “The tragedy of this pandemic is that if vaccines were distributed more equitably, it could have been controlled now,” he added, adding that pharmaceutical companies should prioritize profits and patents to ensure wider access. vaccine.
WHO, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization are supporting the global push. By September, at least 10% of the population in each country will be vaccinated, reaching at least 40% by the end of this year, and at least 70% by the end of this year . Mid 2022.
Ghebreyesus also reiterated the importance of public health measures beyond vaccines—including testing, contact tracing, and isolation—to control the spread of the virus.
Many measures form part of the rules in the Olympic manual, which are designed to help ensure the safety of athletes, officials, and the media while in Japan and minimize the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Most events will be held in open venues.
The person in charge of the WHO stated that the “sign of success” is not zero cases, but cases being identified, isolated, tracked and taken care of.
To date, approximately 67 cases related to the event have been reported, and the opening ceremony will be held on Friday.
“In the 125-year history of the Modern Games, they have been under the shadow of war, economic crisis, and geopolitical turmoil. But they have never been organized under the shadow of a pandemic before,” he said. “Although COVID-19 may have postponed the game, it did not defeat them.”