TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 Olympics President Yoshiro Mori said he did not intend to wear masks, despite the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 2,000 people in China, a Japanese sports newspaper reported on Friday.
“I pray to God every day that the coronavirus will just vanish,” Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, was quoted by the Sponichi Annex paper as saying.
“I plan to hold out to the end without wearing a mask,” he said, while exhorting reporters and others in the room, “Please wash your hands when you get home, and especially athletes – please don’t catch a cold or the virus.”
Masks, worn by many Japanese people during the cold and allergy seasons, are recommended for those who have reason to think they might have the virus.
But experts say that while masks can prevent sick people from spreading germs, they are not very effective in preventing people from getting infected.
Hundreds of Japanese and foreign passengers were set to disembark from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship near Tokyo on Friday amid growing disquiet in Japan about whether the government was doing enough to stop the virus spreading.
Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and William Mallard; Editing by Hugh Lawson