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WHO head: COVID-19 has not defeated Games

Tokyo: The Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because eliminating risk is impossible, the head of the World Health Organisation told sports officials Wednesday as events began in Japan.

How infections are handled is what matters most, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech to an International Olympic Committee meeting.

"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," he said. The number of Games-linked COVID-19 cases in Japan this month was 79 on Wednesday, with more international athletes testing positive at home and unable to travel.

"The mark of success in the coming fortnight is not zero cases," Tedros said, noting the athletes who already tested positive in Japan, including at the athletes village in Tokyo Bay, where most of the 11,000 competitors will stay.

Teammates classed as close contacts of infected athletes can continue training and preparing for events under a regime of isolation and extra monitoring.

Health experts in Japan have warned of the Olympics becoming a super-spreader event bringing tens of thousands of athletes, officials and workers during a local state of emergency.

Tedros praised both the Tokyo Organising Committee and the Japanese government for their precautions and sacrifices ahead of the Games.

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