TOKYO — In his first public appearance since coming in Tokyo last week, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach referred to his Japanese hosts as Chinese.
“You have managed to make Tokyo the best-ever prepared city for the Olympic Games,” Bach said in his opening remarks at the offices of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee. This is even more impressive in light of the challenging circumstances we all face.”
Bach stumbled over his words, referring to the Chinese rather than the Japanese.
“Our common goal is a safe and secure games for everyone, including the athletes, all delegations, and, most importantly, the Chinese and Japanese people,” Bach stated, swiftly correcting himself.
The slip was not included in the interpretations of Bach’s statements in the briefing, which were translated from English to Japanese. Nonetheless, it was rapidly publicized in the Japanese media, and there was a backlash on social media.
He concluded his remarks with the Japanese term “Gambari mashou,” which means “Let us try our best.”
In ten days, the Olympics will resume after being postponed due to the epidemic. Bach spent his first three days in seclusion at the IOC’s five-star hotel in central Tokyo, and his movements are restricted for the first 14 days, just like practically everyone else competing in the Olympics.
Last week, organizers and the IOC opted to ban spectators from all but a few outlying venues, following the Japanese government’s declaration of a state of emergency in Tokyo due to an increase in coronavirus cases. The state of emergency was declared on Monday and will last until August 22.
The state of emergency will remain in place throughout the Olympic Games, which begin on July 23 and end on August 8. Its primary effect is to encourage pubs and restaurants to close early and stop serving alcohol in order to reduce crowding on packed trains.
The official opening of the Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay coincided with Bach’s visit on Tuesday. The number of athletes present was not immediately known by the organizers.
Bach will travel to Hiroshima on Friday in an attempt to link the Olympics to the city’s efforts to promote international peace. On the same day, IOC vice-president John Coates will travel to Nagasaki.
According to Japan’s Kyodo news, a faction in Hiroshima is opposing Bach’s visit.
Organizers have been chastised for pushing through with the Olympics during the pandemic, despite polls showing that 50 percent to 80 percent of the public oppose the games taking place, depending on how the issue is phrased.
A total of 11,000 athletes will compete in the Olympics, together with tens of thousands of officials, judges, reporters, and broadcasters. A group of four US and British men working for a power business contracted to the Olympics were also arrested on suspicion of cocaine use on Tuesday, according to Tokyo police.
Aggreko Events Services is a company that specializes in organizing events. Japan confirmed that the accused were employed and expressed regret for the incident. The four suspects reportedly entered Japan between February and May and were staying in Tokyo, according to NHK public television.
There were 830 new viral cases recorded in Tokyo this week, up from 593 the week before. It’s the 24th day in a row that cases have been greater than the prior seven days. According to the Japanese prime minister’s office, 18.5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.