International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach (on screen) delivers an opening speech at a meeting of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, while Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto listens, in Tokyo on May 19, 2021. Photo: AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno

At least three-quarters of athletes and team members staying at Tokyo’s Olympic village will be vaccinated by the Games, International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach announced Wednesday.

“At this moment, already as many as 75% of the residents of the Olympic village are already vaccinated or have secured vaccination in time before the Olympic Games,” he said at a meeting of Olympic officials.

“But our efforts do not stop there. We have good reasons to believe that this figure will be well above 80%,” he added, speaking at a coordination commission meeting of Olympic and Japanese officials.

Bach also said the IOC was willing to bring extra medical personnel to the Games, as organizers face controversy in Japan about whether the event will further stretch the country’s healthcare system during the pandemic.

“The IOC has offered to the organizing committee to have additional medical personnel as part of the NOC (National Olympic Committee) delegations,” Bach said.

The additional personnel would “support the medical operations and the strict implementation of the Covid-19 counter-measures in the Olympic Village and the Olympic venues,” he added.

He gave no details on how many people could be involved, but the offer appeared intended to address persistent criticism that Japan’s medical facilities cannot cope with additional pressure created by the Games.

Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto said organizers would accept the offer, adding that vaccination of participants “would be a great help towards delivering a safe and secure Games.”

Just 10 weeks before the Games open, polls still show most Japanese want the event postponed further or canceled.

Japan is battling a new wave of coronavirus infections and its own vaccine rollout has been criticized as slow.

But Games organizers say strict counter-measures, including the first ban ever on overseas spectators, will ensure the event is safe.

– AFP