A foreign participant at the Tokyo Paralympics Games has become the first person from the event to be hospitalised, the organising committee confirmed on Thursday, amid concerns over the spiraling Covid situation in Japan.
The news of the first hospitalisation comes after two other athletes tested positive in the Games village on Wednesday.
The patient, whose identity has not been confirmed, is a “non severe” case of Covid who tested positive on Monday, the committee said, reiterating that the Games are being held safely.
There are now a total of 13 cases inside the village and another 13 Games-related cases outside of it as of Thursday, the Paralympic testing programme confirmed. Those positive include five athletes, according to The Guardian.
“We are indeed delivering a safe and secure Paralympic Games,” committee spokesperson Masanori Takaya told a press briefing. “We cannot reduce the risks to zero, but we can minimize the risks to deliver a safe and secure games. We are responding in the most proper way to the positive cases.”
The Paralympics games are being held 15 days after the Olympic Games, which had more than 340 Covid cases linked just to the Olympics since 1 July, according to data given by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The overall surge in cases has strained Tokyo’s healthcare system, with respect to the number of beds available in the capital. Tokyo and other parts of Japan are currently under an extended Covid-19 state of emergency amid the surge driven by Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach has been criticised for returning to Japan on Tuesday for the Paralympic opening ceremony. He, however, left within 24 hours after attending some of the events.
His movements were reportedly criticised by Japan’s top Covid advisor Shigeru Omi on Wednesday. He said Mr Bach’s decisions run counter to “common sense” amid the current pandemic situation.
The committee spokesperson, however, defended Mr Bach’s movements. “It’s not uncommon for the IOC president to attend the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games. It’s happened on many, many previous occasions. So we were really pleased that he was here.”
Meanwhile, Japan on Thursday suspended the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine due to reports of contamination in some of the doses.
Th health ministry said “foreign materials” were found in some doses of a batch containing 560,000 vials. The development prompted several Japanese companies to cancel planned vaccination drives for their workers, even as the government confirmed there have been no reports of any adverse effects related to the administration of the contaminated doses.