Olympic Games bosses have moved to reassure critics in the wake of fresh Covid-19 drama, with the Tokyo Games chief admitting athletes arriving in Japan are "probably very worried".
IOC chief Thomas Bach urged the Japanese people to get behind the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday as the first coronavirus case hit the Games Village, prompting fresh jitters about the health risks posed by the giant event.
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His visit comes after one positive case was already identified in the Olympic Village, with Games chief Seiko Hashimoto saying she understands the concerns of those arriving in the country.
Several competitors have expressed concern over conditions at the Olympics, which are marked by ubiquitous temperature checks, hand sanitiser and daily testing.
Organisers pledged full transparency about cases in the Village, and urged people taking part in the Games to stick by the anti-coronavirus rules.
"Athletes who are coming to Japan are probably very worried. I understand that," Hashimoto said.
"That is the reason why we need to make full disclosure."
The IOC president, who has faced scattered protests since arriving in Japan, appealed to the public to throw their support behind the athletes despite fears of a spike in cases as thousands of international visitors arrive.
Bach said he was "very well aware of the scepticism" surrounding the postponed 2020 Games, which have attracted low opinion-poll ratings for months.
"I appeal to the Japanese people to welcome these athletes here for the competition of their life," Bach added, insisting the Tokyo Olympics were safe, calling them the "most restrictive sports event... in the entire world".
"I would like once more to ask and to invite the Japanese people, humbly, to welcome and support the athletes from around the world," he added.
Bach's plea comes just six days before the opening ceremony for the Games, which will take place in biosecure "bubble" conditions and largely without fans.
It also coincided with the first case in the Olympic Village, concerning an unnamed person who is now in isolation.
A Czech Olympic team staff member has also tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Tokyo on a charter flight from Prague.
Several positive cases associated with Games
Czech Olympic officials said on Saturday that all their athletes were healthy and in the Olympic Village.
The unnamed staff member - who had two negative tests before departure and had no symptoms - is now in isolation along with several close contacts from the plane.
"Within two hours we implemented an action plan and we prepared individual rooms for all athletes and members of the escort from the plane who arrived in the village," Czech Olympic Committee sports director Martin Doktor said.
"In any case, the training activities and plans of the athletes are not limited in any way."
As well as the first Covid-19 case at the athletes' village, 14 other new cases have been connected to the Games that begin next week, raising fresh doubts over promises of a "safe and secure" event.
However, Bach said just 15 people had tested positive out of 15,000 arrivals in July, citing it as proof that the strict anti-coronavirus measures, including daily tests for athletes, are working.
He also held the door open to a possible return of fans if conditions improve, citing a communique issued after talks between the IOC, International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo 2020, Japanese government and Tokyo authority.
"We will keep monitoring the anti-Covid developments. And if the circumstances should change, then we do have another immediate five parties meeting to address this with the relevant anti COVID-19 measures," said Bach.
Postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, the Games are being held mostly without spectators and under tight quarantine rules.
Most athletes are starting to arrive for the Olympics, which run from July 23 through to August 8.
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