Athletes could be receiving COVID-19 vaccines before competing in the Olympic Games this summer.
Sky News reported that British officials are negotiating with health officials to secure vaccines for its Tokyo-bound athletes before the rescheduled Games begin in July. Dick Pound, a longtime IOC member, said Canada is also pushing to see its contingent of athletes vaccinated before the Games.
“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,” Pound told Sky News. “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 report comes as coronavirus conditions worsen around the globe and as a series of new vaccinations are being introduced.
Last month, members of the USOPC told reporters in a conference call the organization would encourage Team USA athletes to vaccinate themselves if they can but stopped short of saying vaccines would be required.
As of last month, the IOC said it will not require athletes to be vaccinated before competing in the Tokyo Games, but are encouraging them to do so. Officials are worried that athletes from nations that might not have easy access to vaccines could be left out.
Officials are working on a series of mitigation efforts ahead of the Olympic Games that will include COVID-free bubbles similar to what cycling introduced during 2020, as well as COVID screenings before traveling and upon arrival.
Officials insisted that vaccines for athletes would happen only after frontline health-care workers and the most sensitive COVID patients would be vaccinated.
Health officials across Europe began introducing the new vaccines at the end of last month, and hope to have the most vulnerable needs addressed before beginning to vaccinate the larger population.
Speaking with BOA chief executive Andy Anson, the report stated that officials are telling its athletes to train on the assumption that the Tokyo Games will be contested this summer.
“I’m telling athletes ‘it’s going ahead’,” Anson told Sky News. “They’ve got to assume it’s happening and every message is it’s going to happen, but we’ve got to get through these tough times first.”