Tokyo Olympics: WHO Director-General addresses IOC


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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus, at WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 11, 2020.

Fabrice Coffrini AFP | Getty Images

The world is in the early stages of a new wave of Covid-19 infections and deaths, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

Addressing members of the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo, Tedros said the global failure to share vaccines, tests and treatments is fomenting a “two-track pandemic”. Countries that have adequate resources like vaccines are opening up, while others are locking up in an attempt to slow down the transmission of the virus.

“This is not only moral outrage, but also epidemiologically and economically self-destructive,” Tedros said, adding that the longer the pandemic drags on, the more socio-economic turmoil it will bring.

“A pandemic is a test and the world is falling apart,” he said.

A celebration of hope

The The Tokyo Games are scheduled to open on Friday after being delayed last year due to a pandemic.

Increased Covid-19 cases in Tokyo overshadowed the Olympics, which are banned all viewers of the game this month after Japan declared a state of emergency.

Cases around the Japanese capital have risen more than In the last few days, 1,000 new infections a day. Japan has recorded more than 848,000 Covid cases and more than 15,000 deaths nationwide, due to the relatively slow introduction of the vaccine.

The first positive case Covid-19 hit the athlete’s village over the weekend and, so far, more than 70 cases are associated with the Tokyo Games.

On Wednesday, Tedros said the games were a celebration of “something our world needs now, more than ever – a celebration of hope.” Although the pandemic may have delayed the games, he said it did not “win” them.

Deviations in vaccines

Tedros criticized the differences in vaccines between rich and low-income countries. He said 75% of all doses of the vaccine were given in only 10 countries, while only 1% of people in poorer countries received at least one injection.

The global health authority has called for massive efforts around the world to vaccinate at least 70% of the population in each country by the middle of next year.

“The pandemic will end when the world decides to stop it. It is in our hands,” Tedros said. “We have all the tools we need: we can prevent this disease, we can test it, and we can treat it.”

He called on the world’s leading economies to boost by sharing vaccines and funding global efforts to make them more accessible, as well as encouraging companies to increase vaccine production.

Data Disclosure: CNBC’s parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. holder of the rights to broadcast all summer and winter games until 2032.

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