The head of the World Health Organization told Olympic chiefs ‘the world is failing’ to stop Covid-19 as the pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 sports programme got underway on Wednesday.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an uneven vaccine rollout risked worsening the crisis, but hoped the Olympics could be a ‘message of hope’ to a pandemic-weary world.
‘The pandemic is a test the world is failing. 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,’ Tedros said.
‘The threat is not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere. Anyone who thinks the pandemic is over is living in a fool’s paradise,’ he added.
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 distanced desks.
The Tokyo Olympics, which formally open with Friday’s opening ceremony, will be held largely behind closed doors with the Japanese capital under a state of emergency following a surge in cases.