The head of the World Health Organization told Olympic chiefs that “the world is failing” to stop Covid-19 as the Tokyo 2020 sports program, delayed by the pandemic, got underway on Wednesday.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an uneven launch of the vaccine could exacerbate the crisis, but he hoped the Olympics could be a “message of hope” for a world weary from the pandemic.
“The pandemic is a test that the world is failing. More than four million people have died and more are dying. Already this year the number of deaths is more than double the total of last year, “said Tedros.
“The threat ends nowhere until it ends everywhere. Anyone who believes that the pandemic is over is living in a fool’s paradise. “
Tedros spoke without wearing a mask at the International Olympic Committee session, held at a luxury hotel in Tokyo with masked delegates sitting at socially estranged desks.
Furthermore, the sports program for the delayed 2020 Games began with a softball game in Fukushima, which was devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011.
The Tokyo Olympics, which formally open with Friday’s opening ceremony, will be held largely behind closed doors with the Japanese capital in a state of emergency following a surge in cases.
Tedros symbolically received an Olympic torch from IOC chief Thomas Bach at the end of his opening speech.
He said 75 percent of the vaccines had been administered in just 10 countries.
“The ones you have are opening up, the ones you don’t have are getting blocked,” he said, adding: “This is what happens with hell, if you hose only one part, the rest will continue to burn.”
Organizers announced eight more Games-related infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 79.
“The celebrations may be quieter this year, but the message of hope is even more important,” said Tedros, repeating his call to vaccinate 70 percent of the population in each country by mid-2022.
“May these Games be the moment to unite the world and ignite the solidarity and determination we need to end the pandemic together,” he said.
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