COVID-19 infection rate low within Olympics, says IOC chief

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Tokyo The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has said that only 15 people related to the Tokyo Olympics have tested positive for COVID-19. He reiterated that the upcoming Olympics are not a threat to the people of Japan despite a positive case emerging from the Athletes Village.

“From July 1 to July 16, around 15,000 athletes, officials, support staff and accredited media people have arrived in Tokyo. All were tested on arrival. Out of the 15,000, only 15 were tested positive on arrival or at screening. It is a very low rate. All the people who tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation. They are not a threat to Olympics participants and people of Japan,” said Bach in a press conference on Saturday.

When asked about the meaning of the Games in turbulent times like this, Bach was optimistic. “The Olympics have always been about getting the entire world together in one peaceful competition. Athletes from 205 nations and IOC refugee team in one city, country and village, living together peacefully but competing with each other and following the same rules. The demonstration that it can happen in a safe and secure environment, the perseverance and acceptance by all athletes and delegation of entire COVID measures shows how much they value that these Games are taking place”.

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Bach was asked about the possibility of spectators in stadiums if the infections reduce. For the Olympics, spectators have been banned from attending events.

“I won’t comment on this. We will keep monitoring development. If circumstances should change, then we will have an immediate meeting of five parties to address this with relevant COVID-19 measures”.

Asked if the IOC will fully support New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, the transgender weightlifter competing in women’s 87 kg+ event at the Olympics, President Bach said, “The rules are applied & the rules cannot be changed. This is what all the athletes of the world are relying on, that the rules are being applied”.

The Tokyo Olympics start on July 23 and will end on August 8.