A person involved in the Tokyo Paralympics has been hospitalized with COVID-19, the games organizing committee said Thursday, the first such case linked to the event.
In confirming the hospitalization, organizers were keen to reiterate that the largest sporting event for athletes with disabilities is being held safely.
A person from overseas linked with the Paralympics, but not an athlete, has been hospitalized after testing positive on Monday for the coronavirus. The patient is not displaying severe symptoms, committee spokesman Masanori Takaya said.
The committee reported 15 more COVID-19 cases associated with the Paralympics, increasing the cumulative total since Aug. 12 to 184. The 15 included two athletes from overseas who were staying in the athletes' village.
"We are indeed delivering a safe and secure Paralympic Games," Takaya told a press briefing. "We cannot reduce the risks to zero, but we can minimize the risks to deliver a safe and secure games. We are responding in the most proper way to the positive cases."
The Paralympics, involving a record 4,403 athletes from around the world, started Tuesday after the Olympics wrapped up about three weeks ago.
Tokyo and other parts of Japan have been under a COVID-19 state of emergency as the country battles an alarming rise in the number of daily infections caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Health experts have said the country's medical system is close to a breaking point leading to more and more people having to recuperate at home due to a shortage of hospital beds.
The organizers also said International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach left Japan on Wednesday night after visiting for the opening ceremony of the Paralympics.
He was criticized by Japan's top COVID-19 advisor Shigeru Omi on Wednesday for returning to Tokyo. His decision runs counter to "common sense" under the current situation in the pandemic, Omi said.
Craig Spence, International Paralympic Committee spokesman, stressed that Bach was invited by the IPC to attend the opening ceremony and his activity plan in Japan was approved beforehand by the Japanese government.
The IOC president also watched goalball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby, swimming and wheelchair basketball on Wednesday, the first day of competition, before he left.
"It's not uncommon for the IOC president to attend the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games. It's happened on many, many previous occasions," Spence said at the same press conference. "So we were really pleased that he was here."
As for Bach's visit, Takaya also said, "Necessary epidemic prevention measures were taken upon his arrival, and he responded to them appropriately and acted appropriately."