Top Japanese adviser blasts visit by IOC's Bach as COVID curbs expand

International Olympic Committee
(Photo: Wikimedia)
TOKYO — Japan's top medical adviser blasted International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Wednesday for visiting Tokyo again when the country is expanding emergency curbs to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.اضافة اعلان

Japan will expand states of emergency to eight more prefectures from Friday, taking the total to 21 regions from Hokkaido in the north to the southern island of Okinawa and covering nearly 80 percent of its population.

In an unusually blunt statement from a Japanese official, Dr Shigeru Omi suggested Bach's decision to fly into Japan again for this week's Paralympics opening ceremony had undermined efforts to persuade people to avoid travel and work from home.

In response, the IOC said Bach's visit had been authorised by the Japanese government and was meant to show support for Paralympic athletes.

"We had said over and over 'What kind of message will the Olympics send to the public?'" Omi, the immunologist who chairs the government's coronavirus advisory panel that approved the emergency plan, said in a parliamentary session.

"We're asking people to work from home more. If (IOC) President Bach needs to give a speech (for the Paralympics), why couldn't he do it remotely? Why does he have to bother coming all the way here?" Omi said, drawing applause from a few lawmakers.

"That kind of plain, common sense should function under these circumstances," he said.

Bach spent more than a month in Japan for the Olympic Games, which finished on August 8. 

The IOC said on Wednesday his latest visit was "part of the support of the IOC to the Paralympic

Games and the Paralympic athletes and the strong cooperation between the IOC and the IPC".

Omi's comments underscored the frustration felt by many as the government grapples to bring infections under control. Citizens are growing weary of life under restrictions and companies are ignoring requests to promote work-from-home.

Omi had voiced strong concerns about holding the 2020 Games, while others in the medical community opposed them. He had warned that infections could spread as the public interpreted hosting the Games as a sign that it was safe enough to go about their normal activities.

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