WHO chief: Virus risk inevitable at Olympics

The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that the risk of COVID-19 spreading at the Olympics is inevitable as tens of thousands gather for the global competition.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a keynote speech at an International Olympics Committee (IOC) meeting that cases at the Olympics should be expected and what matters is how organizers respond to infections.

“The mark of success in the coming fortnight is not zero cases, and I know that some cases have already been detected,” he said. “The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible, and onward transmission is interrupted.”

Almost 80 cases have been connected to the Olympics, including 33 among international visitors, as of Wednesday — two days before the opening ceremony.

Tedros praised the IOC for having “done your best” to reduce transmission with COVID-19 safety measures, saying the Olympics’ success could show “a demonstration of what is possible with the right plans and the right measures.”

But the director-general also issued a stark warning to the world, calling the pandemic “a test” that “the world is failing.”

​​“The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it,” he said. “It’s in our hands.”