With only 163 Covid positives, Tokyo proves mega-events can be held

Giant Olympic rings returns to Tokyo Bay.(Image courtesy: Xinhua news agency)

With a total of 11,500 participants and more than 50,000 reaching Tokyo as support staff, volunteers, administrators IOC representatives, and other officials, the Olympic Games were expected to be Coronavirus super spreader.

Though the Tokyo Olympics reported several positive cases, there has not been a mass outbreak of the virus and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has claimed that “one of the key learnings has been the progress made in the understanding of COVID-19 in the context of mass gathering events”.

According to data released by IOC, Tokyo Olympics, the most-tested event in recent times, has reported only 163 Covid-19 positive cases in the 6,76,789 screening tests conducted from July 1 till August 8, the day the Olympics were officially declared closed. This gives a positivity rate of 0.02 percent, the IOC claimed.

In the 42,861 Covid-19 tests conducted for Games participants, only 37 were confirmed positives, which gives a less than 0.09 percent positivity rate.

Instead of becoming a super spreader, the Games helped in understanding how to successfully conduct mass gathering events, the IOC said.

This assumes significance as the pandemic is showing no signs of abating while there are more events of such mass gatherings lined up next year like the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised that the way out of the pandemic is through applying public health and social measures, such as social distancing, wearing masks and hand hygiene,” Dr. Brian McCloskey, Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Independent Expert Panel, noted during a press briefing at the end of the Games.

He continued, “Backing this up by an effective and comprehensive test, track and trace programme. This has been the view of the WHO since the beginning.”

“What Tokyo 2020 has just done in a historic way is show that the WHO advice is right. By following basic public health measures, and by layering a testing programme on top, we have shown that it is possible to keep a pandemic at bay,” he added.

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