Japan’s highest authority to combat COVID-19 has criticized the attendance of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on Tuesday. For Shigeru Omi, chair of the Epidemic Response Subcommittee, the new trip to Japan was timely.
Thomas Bach, left, seated alongside officials such as IPC President Andrew Parsons and Emperor Naruhito at the opening of the Paralympic Games – Photo: Masahiro Sugimoto/Yomiuri/Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP
– I wonder why he bothered to come. You must show common sense. He has already come here. Didn’t he already go to Ginza? That’s what I think of as a lay person, not necessarily as a member of the expert panel. If he needs to do something, I think he can do it online – slammed during a parliamentary session.
This Wednesday Bach was also photographed at a rugby match and at a wheelchair basketball game. Criticism of the leader is mainly due to the fact that the number of infections in Japan has been increasing at an intense pace day by day since the start of the Olympic Games in July. The government has extended the state of emergency until August 22, and is making daily appeals to residents to stay at home.
Bach arrived in Tokyo on Monday, following an invitation from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to attend the opening ceremony. During his stay in the country for the Olympics, the German was also criticized after he was seen in an upscale shopping center in the Ginza region, accompanied by security guards.
Thomas Bach attended basketball and rugby matches in wheelchairs on Wednesday – Image: Getty Images
This was the episode that Omi referred to in his speech. While the leader was walking, athletes and other delegates were not allowed to tour the city and had to follow strict protocols.
Despite pleas from health authorities, members of various fields in the Japanese government maintain that the progress of the COVID-19 epidemic has no direct relation to the games, as participants are under tight control, with immediate isolation in case of contamination.
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