The country, which has recorded 715,940 infections and 12,308 deaths from the virus, has delivered vaccinations to just under 5% of its population, the slowest among the world’s larger, rich countries.
The fourth wave of infections has led authorities to declare states of emergency covering much of the country, including Tokyo, raising some concerns about the Olympic Games due to begin on July 23.
The states of emergency for most regions are due to end on May 31, though the government is leaning towards extending the measures, several people with knowledge of the decision told Reuters.
A poll this month found 65% of Japanese wanted the Games cancelled or postponed again while more than 350,000 people have signed a petition to cancel the Games.
Bach said over 70 percent of athletes and officials will be vaccinated by the time they are in Tokyo, and he urged international federations to help increase that number among its athletes and officials, in part to demonstrate ‘respect and solidarity’ with the Japanese.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedhros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also speaking at the 2021 International Federation Forum, said his organisation would work closely with sporting organisers to ensure events can continue to take place and not pose a public health hazard.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the power of global sport to keep people active and healthy on a physical and mental level, describing it as ‘a beacon of light’.