IOC seeking Covid-19 vaccines for athletes to help Tokyo Olympics go ahead

IOC hopeful athletes can receive jab in second or third wave ahead of Games in July

The Tokyo Olympics remain in the balance. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/Getty/AFP

The Tokyo Olympics remain in the balance. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/Getty/AFP

 

The International Olympic Committee is working on ways to get athletes the coronavirus jab in the second or third wave so that the Tokyo Games can go ahead safely in July.

While insisting that we “do not want to queue jump”, IOC sources are hoping athletes from around the globe will be high up on the vaccination list, once key workers and the vulnerable are given the jab.

Several sources in the Olympic movement have also indicated that they remain confident the Games will take place in some form this summer. However the rise of several new coronavirus variants and the steep jump in cases in Japan – which reported a record 5,307 daily cases on Wednesday – has led to a growing desire to get athletes vaccinated in the coming weeks and months.

The IOC is aware that it needs to tread a fine line between ensuring athlete safety and appearing overly pushy, and there were some eyebrows raised in Lausanne on Tuesday when one IOC member, Dick Pound, suggested there would be no public outcry if athletes jumped the queue – and that “it was the most realistic way” of ensuring the Tokyo Olympics went ahead.

Pound, the longest-serving member of the IOC, told Sky News: “In Canada where we might have 300 or 400 athletes – to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level – I don’t think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that. It’s a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they are jumping the queue but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead.”

IOC sources stressed that the situation was more nuanced than Pound had made out.

Previously the IOC president, Thomas Bach, has encouraged athletes to have a Covid-19 vaccination before Tokyo 2020 but insisted it would not be an entry requirement. That is partly because there is an appreciation that some athletes’ faith may mean they are uneasy about using a vaccine containing pork-derived gelatin, which is widely used as a stabiliser to ensure it remains safe and effective during storage and transport.

While not commenting on Pound’s comments, or suggestions it wanted athletes to be vaccinated in the second or third wave, the IOC did confirm it would be making “all efforts to have as many foreign participants as possible” vaccinated before the Games.

“Together with the National Olympic Committees, we will make all the efforts so that the NOCs encourage and assist their athletes, their officials and their stakeholders to get vaccinated before they come to Japan,” the IOC said.

“We are doing so, of course, in order to contribute even more to the safe environment in the Games, but also out of respect for the Japanese people because they should be confident that everything is being done to not only protect the participants, but also the Japanese people, by having as many of the visitors as possible being vaccinated.”

The British Olympic Association and UK Sport have discussed how they could get a Covid vaccine to athletes by July but it is understood they are not in active conversations with the government. The BOA chief executive, Andy Anson, said: “The priority has to be the people who need it most; frontline workers, the elderly and the vulnerable. There will come a time, hopefully ahead of the Olympic Games, when the athletes can be considered for vaccination but we’ll only do that when it’s appropriate.” - Guardian

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.