By Jack Tarrant, Akira TomoshigeTOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who is battling back from leukaemia, provided a glimmer of hope for embattled Tokyo Olympics organisers during a sombre yet poignant ceremony to mark one year to go until the rearranged Games on Thursday.The Olympics were due to begin on Friday with an extravagant opening ceremony in the National Stadium but the Games have instead been delayed until July 23, 2021 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.A subdued 15-minute ceremony took place in an empty and dark National Stadium, where footage was shown to highlight next year’s Games.Ikee, who won six titles at the 2018 Asian Games and was considered a strong medal contender for the Olympics before her illness, stood under a spotlight dressed in all white as she represented a figure of hope for Tokyo. “Imagine the world a year from now,” she said while holding the Olympic flame in a lantern.“How wonderful it will be to see the curtain raising on the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are currently living in a world of ups and downs. I sincerely hope that the peace and calm of daily life returns as soon as possible.”Various venues that will host Olympics events next year, including the newly-built Ariake Arena, were lit up in the Olympic colours to mark the occasion. Last year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach presided over a glitzy ceremony to mark the occasion in the Japanese capital and declared Tokyo the best prepared host city he had ever seen.This time around the atmosphere was much more subdued and Thursday’s small ceremony is a sign of things to come in the lead-up to the Games next year.“We have to prepare for multiple scenarios of the Games,” Bach told broadcaster Eurosport, the Games’ official broadcaster in Europe, on Thursday.“We don’t know how the world will look like in one year. So we are preparing for all the different scenarios. The top priority is that these Olympic Games will only take place in a safe environment for everybody,” he said. Asked whether the Games could go ahead even without fans, Bach said the organisation needed to adapt to the circumstances.“In this world you have to adapt yourself. We are working to optimize the Games, to simplify the Games, to adapt it to the time we are living in. We are not living on a spacecraft, we are in the middle of the world society.”The head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission John Coates has said rearranging the Games meant focusing on the “must haves” in a simplified event.In response, Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Toshiro Muto said over 200 simplification measures were under consideration. Thursday’s landmark comes as the Japanese capital reported 366 new coronavirus cases, a new daily record, fuelling fears of a second round of infections.
The County Health Officer for Bong County, Dr. Sampson Azoakoi has confirmed four cases of the Ebola virus at the Phebe Hospital.Addressing journalists recently in Gbarnga, Dr. Azoakoi explained that a nurse working at the Phebe Hospital was confirmed of the virus while four other health workers were suspected of the disease.The County Health Officer informed journalists that statistics has established a total of eight suspected cases, five probable total cases and four confirmed cases reported.Dr. Azoakoi was swift to notify reporters that the confirmed and suspected cases have already being transferred to Monrovia at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare testing and treatment centers.He lamented that the nurse whose name was not disclosed contracted the virus while catering to a patient suspected to have died from the Ebola disease at the Phebe Hospital early this month.The County Health Officer named the lack of chlorine, training for health workers, myth and entrenched disbelief of many people about the existence of Ebola, church and church related organization failure to use the pulpit to preach anti Ebola messages, and limited funding to create more awareness on the disease as some major challenges confronting the county health team in combating the disease.“Can you imagine we have only one ambulance in the county? So, if a confirmed case is being taken to Monrovia, we have to wait for the ambulance to return before taking any person whether suspected or not” Dr. Azoakoi emphasized. Commenting on protective equipment for health workers in the county, the health officer said the Ministry of Health and partners have made available some defensive gears for health workers in the county, but was quick to state that equipment were not enough to cover everyone.The Liberian Medical Practitioner told newsmen that the county health team in collaboration with its partners was doing everything possible to ensure that all health facilities will remain functional despite the reported cases of Ebola in the county.At the same time, Dr. Azoakoi has called on nurses and health workers in the county not to turn down patients who are coming to the hospitals for treatment.Meanwhile, Dr. Azoakoi has warned residents of Gbarnga against the doubting of the existence of the deadly Ebola virus.Signs and symptoms of Ebola include, fever, nausea, tiredness, headache, vomiting diarrhea, coughing and bleeding. He told journalists that despite the number of deaths reported in recent times, there are some people in the county who are persistently denying the existence of the virus.The County Health Officer described the act as barbaric and said has the propensity to spread the disease, making it difficult to fight the virus.He then encouraged community residents to join the County Health team to increase the fight against the disease and urged them (residents) not to stay away from the hospital.In March of this year the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare confirmed the existence of the Ebola virus in the country and advised the public to take preventive measures since there is no cure for it.The Ministry warned the citizens against the consumption of bush meat especially monkey meat, fruit, bats and chimpanzee, and encouraged them to always take the sick to the hospital.The World Health Organization reported that more than 500 people have died from the disease which started from neighboring Guinea and to Sierra Leone and Liberia early this year.This is the largest number of deaths from the Ebola disease since it was discovered in 1976 in former Zaire now Democratic Republic of Congo. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)