Great progress reported in NOCs’ vaccination plans for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020


03 Jun 2021

National Olympic Committees (NOCs) from all over the world are responding to calls to get their athletes vaccinated ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

From the outset, the IOC sent a clear message that there will be no obligation for athletes to get vaccinated. At the same time, the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee have always been fully aligned in their commitment to have as many foreign participants as possible vaccinated before the Games.

In order to achieve this, the IOC has strongly encouraged the NOCs to engage closely with their respective governments to assist their athletes, officials and national stakeholders to get vaccinated in their home countries, in line with national immunisation guidelines, before they go to Japan. The NOCs were also called upon to extend this collaboration to the National Paralympic Committees to ensure Paralympic delegations were afforded the same opportunities through the national vaccination programmes. These efforts are to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the Japanese people, who should be confident that everything is being done to protect not only the participants, but also the Japanese people themselves.

Many of the NOCs around the world have shared the good news. Here are just some examples of the many announcements:

A British Olympic Association (BOA) spokesperson said in May: “The UK Government has confirmed that, through an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and Pfizer BioNtech, Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, based on the unique position of having to travel to Japan to go about their work. The agreement means the vaccines will be obtained directly from Pfizer, and will not impact current supplies for the British public.”

The NOC of Mexico was one of the first NOCs (in March 2021, along with Hungary, Israel, Serbia amongst others) that secured vaccines for its athletes going to Tokyo 2020.

The NOC of Kenya had good support from the national government to secure vaccination for its delegation and for refugee athletes training in the country.

Many NOCs have secured vaccines for overseas athletes living in their territories through their national programmes. For example, the Government of Thailand, with the coordination of the NOC of Thailand and IOC Member Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, helped with the vaccination of overseas swimmers who are currently training at the International Swimming Federation (FINA) training camp in Phuket, Thailand. Another example is the NOC of Australia, which has agreed to include Olympic and Paralympic athletes from Oceania based in Australia in its national vaccination programme.

This evident progress is very warmly welcomed by the IOC and Tokyo 2020, as vaccination is one of the many important tools in the toolbox of countermeasures to ensure the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be safe for everyone participating and the Japanese people.

Vaccination timeline and progress

As part of the plans to ensure safe and secure Games, the IOC announced on 6 May 2021 the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE to donate doses of the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine to Games participants from National Olympic and Paralympic Committees around the world.

Additionally, the IOC has received an offer from the Chinese Olympic Committee, the host of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 to assist in making vaccines available.

Another boost was the announcement that Panam Sports has offered vaccinations to all qualified athletes and accredited officials from the region who have not yet been inoculated against COVID-19.

Moreover, the IOC, together with the NOCs and government authorities of Qatar and Rwanda, with support from Pfizer, has established two further pre-Games vaccination opportunities for Olympic and Paralympic Games participants.

Currently as many as 75 per cent of the residents of the Olympic Village are already vaccinated or have secured vaccination; and there is good reason to believe that this figure will be well over 80 per cent at the time of the Games. It is happening in solidarity with the Japanese people, and to protect the Japanese people as well as the participants of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

IOC News Tokyo 2020
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