More than 100,000 people will die from COVID-19 around the world between now and the end of the Olympic Games, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Tokyo that “the pandemic is a test and the world is failing”.
He also warned that anyone who thinks the pandemic is over because cases are under control in their country is living in “a fool’s paradise”.
Dr. Tedros also said that it is a “horrifying injustice” that 75% of the vaccine shots delivered globally so far were in just 10 countries.
He added: “More than four million people have died and more continue to die. Already this year, the number of deaths is more than double last year’s total.
“In the time it takes me to make these remarks, more than 100 people will lose their lives to COVID-19.
“And by the time the Olympic flame is extinguished on 8 August, more than 100,000 more people will perish.”
The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, delayed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, finally kicked off today, Wednesday, July 21.
Some 11,000 athletes from 200 countries are set to arrive for the Olympics and the number of cases in Japan linked to the Games now stands at 79, according to organizers. Five of them are Olympic Village residents, three of which are athletes. Competitors including US gymnast Kara Eaker, basketball player Katie Lou Samuelson and tennis star Coco Gauff tested positive for Covid prior to arriving in Tokyo, ending their Olympic dreams.
Opinion polls in Japan show that most people oppose holding a major sporting event during a public health crisis and even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) barred fans from attending the competition — an Olympic first.