Bach of the IOC makes a mistake and calls Japanese “Chinese”

IOC President Thomas Bach has appeared in public for the first time since arriving in Tokyo last week and with the opening of the Olympics postponed to pandemic in just 10 days

Bach spent his first three days in isolation at the International Olympic Committee’s five-star hotel in central Tokyo, and his movements are limited – like almost everyone who comes in for the Olympics – for the first 14 days.

Its first stop was the seat of the organizing committee to deliver a pep talk with the besieged matches scheduled to go without fans at nearly every venue.

Organizers and the IOC decided last week to ban fans from nearly all remote venues, a move after the Japanese government instituted a state of emergency in Tokyo forced by the increase in coronavirus cases. The state of emergency went into effect on Monday and lasts until August 22.

The state of emergency will be in effect for the duration of the Olympics, which will open on July 23 and end on August 8. Its main impact is to push bars and restaurants to close earlier and to stop selling alcohol, a move to reduce downstream traffic on crowded trains.

“You have succeeded in making Tokyo the city best prepared for the Olympic Games,” Bach said in his opening remarks to organizing committee chairman Seiko Hashimoto and CEO Toshiro Muto. “It’s even more remarkable in the difficult circumstances that we all have to face.”

Bach stumbled over his words, referring to “Chinese people” rather than “Japanese people”.

“Our common goal is safe and secure games for everyone; for the athletes, for all the delegations, and above all also for the Chinese people – the Japanese people, ”Bach said, quickly reclaiming his mistake.

Bach’s comments in the briefing were interpreted from English to Japanese, but the slip was not included in the interpretations. Still, Japanese media quickly reported it and there were backlashes on social media.

Bach ended his speech with a Japanese phrase: “Gambari mashou”, which translates to “Let’s do our best”.

Bach’s visit on Tuesday coincided with the official opening of the Tokyo Bay Olympic Village. The organizers did not offer an immediate count of the number of athletes present.

Bach is due to travel to Hiroshima on Friday with the aim of tying the Olympics to the city’s efforts to promote world peace. IOC Vice-President John Coates will visit Nagasaki on the same day.

Japanese newspaper Kyodo reported that a group in Hiroshima opposed Bach’s visit.

A small group of protesters gathered outside Bach’s hotel on Saturday carrying signs saying he was not welcome.

Organizers have come under fire for pushing the Olympics forward during the pandemic amid polls that show – depending on how the question is framed – 50% to 80% of the public oppose hosting the Olympics .

The Olympics will involve 11,000 athletes entering Japan along with tens of thousands more, including officials, judges, media and broadcasters.

Also on Tuesday, Tokyo police said a group of four American and British men working for an Olympics-contracted power company were arrested for cocaine use.

Aggreko Events Services Japan confirmed to have employed the suspects and apologized for the problems. NHK state television reported that the four suspects entered Japan from February to May and remained in Tokyo.

New cases of the virus in Tokyo were reported at 830, up from 593 a week ago. This is the 24th day in a row that cases were higher than the previous seven days.

The Japanese prime minister’s office said on Tuesday that 18.5% of Japanese are fully immunized.

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More AP: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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