Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The head of the International Olympic Committee is at the center of a backlash in Japan after a decision to leave the Olympic bubble and venture out onto the streets of Tokyo.
Thomas Bach was seen visiting the Ginza shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo, the Mainichi Shimbun and Chunichi Sports reported Tuesday.
Bach also was seen taking pictures with members of the public while taking his tour.
Japanese social media users uploaded photos of Bach walking around the city, accompanied by Olympic officials and his security detail. The images of Bach, who has become deeply unpopular in Japan, have drawn negative reactions, reports said.
Foreign visitors in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics are only allowed to leave their accommodations to go to Olympic venues. Bach arrived in Japan on July 8 and is no longer subject to a 14-day self-quarantine, but in Tokyo residents have been advised against nonessential travel amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday that Bach's outing does not violate COVID-19 rules. On social media platforms, Japanese commenters pointed out Bach's special travel privileges. Last month the Olympic chief visited Hiroshima before the official end of his quarantine, drawing mixed responses from the Japanese public.
Japanese Olympic organizers have issued a muted response to Bach's visit to Ginza.
Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Tamayo Marukawa, who has denied the event is the source of Japan's rising number of COVID-19 cases, said that it is up to individuals to decide whether or not an outing is necessary.
Japanese opposition leader Renho Murata criticized the response and said that it is "not the responsibility of Olympic organizers to defend Bach."
Bach also drew backlash last week after he credited Olympic athletes for giving the Games a "great Olympic soul," The Guardian reported.
The speech became a trending item on Twitter, where users said there "wasn't a word of hope for the people who worked at the risk of their lives" to support the Olympics, according to the report.