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IOC may cover COVID-19 vaccination costs for Tokyo Olympics participants, says Thomas Bach

IOC President Bach arrived in Tokyo late on Sunday for a four-day visit

TOKYO, November 16. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) may shoulder the costs of vaccinating participants of the Olympic Games in Japan against the novel coronavirus, in case this vaccine is available by that time, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Monday.

"In order to protect the Japanese people and out of respect for the Japanese people, the IOC will undertake great effort so that as many [people] as possible — Olympic participants and visitors — will arrive here with a vaccine, if by then a vaccine is available," Bach said addressing a news conference in Tokyo on Monday.

"Of course everybody in the Olympic Games would like to have a full house, a full capacity stadium," Bach continued. "But the top priority of the IOC and of the organizing committee has always been, and remains, to offer a safe environment, also for spectators."

IOC President Bach arrived in Tokyo late on Sunday for a four-day visit. This is Bach’s first visit to Japan ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo after his initially scheduled visit in May was cancelled due to the ongoing global spread of the novel coronavirus.

Earlier in the day, IOC chief Bach held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and then met for talks with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

Speaking to journalists after his meeting with PM Yoshihide Suga, Bach said: "In this meeting, we were totally aligned in the full determination and confidence to make the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Paralympic Games a great success next summer here in Tokyo."

"Together we can make these Olympics Games and the Olympic flame the light at the end of the tunnel," Bach added.

The IOC (the International Olympic Committee) and the IPC (the International Paralympic Committee) announced on March 24 a decision to postpone for one year the Olympic and Paralympic tournaments in Japan due to the continuous COVID-19 spread.

Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo-2020 Olympics Local Organizing Committee, announced on March 30 that the Summer Olympic Games in Japan next year will start on July 23 and the Summer Paralympic Games will begin on August 24.

Addressing an on-line IOC session in July, Yoshiro Mori stated that all venues and the schedule of competitions would remain unchanged for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games.

Global coronavirus crisis

In late December 2019, Chinese officials informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 54,940,440 people have been infected worldwide and more than 1,326,300 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 38,219,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.