Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound has today said that prioritising the COVID-19 vaccine for athletes is the 'most realistic way' the Olympic Games can still go ahead.
There are now less than 200 days until the start date of the Games that were rescheduled from last summer. Host country Japan is one of the nations that has detected a new variant of the virus that is thought to be up to 70% more transmissable and the country is reported to be on the cusp of a state of emergency after reporting a record 6,004 daily cases today. While vaccines are already being administered in some countries, Japan will not begin administering the Pfizer vaccine until February.
Pound stated that he was confident the Games could still go ahead if athletes receive the vaccine before competing however most athletes would not be prioritised for the jab in most countries as more at-risk groups like the elderly and healthcare workers are in front of them in the queue.
Pound played down fears that athletes getting the vaccine early would cause an uproar on Sky News this morning. He said, "In Canada where we might have 300 or 400 hundred 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."
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics due to follow from August 24 to September 5. The Tokyo organisers confirmed to tuttobici
this week that athletes will not be required to quarantine in order to compete but they will not be allowed to arrive in Tokyo more than five days prior to their event and have to leave within 48 hours after it finishes
Thanks to @dolores
for the tip-off on this story.