IOC member Pound says athletes should be priorities for Covid vaccine

IOC member Dick Pound says athletes should be priorities for Covid vaccine to ensure delayed Tokyo 2020 can go ahead… just weeks after Olympics chief Thomas Bach insisted they wouldn’t be able to jump the queue!

  • IOC member Dick Pound says Olympic athletes should get a Covid vaccine soon
  • Tokyo 2020 was delayed last summer as coronavirus swept across the globe
  • There are concerns they could be cancelled again due to rising cases in Japan
  • Pound thinks countries should vaccinate athletes soon so they can go ahead
  • It comes weeks after IOC chief Thomas Bach said they would not jump the queue

A leading International Olympic Committee (IOC) member thinks athletes should be at the front of the queue for a Covid-19 vaccine to ensure the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games go ahead as planned.

The event was delayed by 12 months last summer as the killer disease swept across the globe and there are growing concerns they will be postponed again due to mounting cases in Japan.

Host city Tokyo is even facing a possible new state of emergency with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to make a decision on restrictions on Thursday.

Dick Pound thinks Olympic athletes should be at the front of the queue for a Covid-19 vaccine

The delayed Tokyo 2020 Games could be at risk once again due to mounting cases in Japan

Sky Sports News claim talks have already taken place between the Government and British Olympic Association (BOA) to allow Team GB athletes to have a Covid-19 vaccination by July.

It would not affect supplies given to vulnerable people or the elderly.

But Dick Pound, the longest-serving IOC member, believes athletes from across the globe should be considered as priorities for a vaccination so the Olympics can go ahead.

He said: ‘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.’

But Pound’s comments come just weeks after IOC president Thomas Bach insisted athletes will not be forced to get Covid-19 vaccinations and cannot jump the queue to get vaccinated first.

But IOC chief Thomas Bach revealed Olympic athletes won’t be forced to get Covid vaccines

Bach, who visited the Athletes’ Village in November during a two-day Tokyo trip with a visit to the National Stadium, said that mandatory shots would be ‘going too far’.  

‘There are too many issues to consider. This is a question of private health. It is a question also of (the) health conditions of each and every person. It’s a question of availability,’ the German said.

‘We will encourage athletes that whenever possible they have the vaccination because it is better for their health, and it is also a demonstration of solidarity with their fellow athletes and also the Japanese people.’

More than 11,000 athletes are expected to descend upon Tokyo for the Olympics, which are due to begin on July 23, with thousands more coming for the subsequent Paralympics. 

The IOC are already trying to help athletes get vaccines in countries where there is not going to be a wide-scale rollout in the coming months.

BOA chief executive Andy Anson told Sky that British athletes would only get a vaccination when it is ‘appropriate’.

Japan’s prime minister and the IOC president insist the Olympics will go ahead next summer 

Prime minister Yoshihide Suga is having to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases across Japan

He said: ‘They won’t get priority access now because I think everyone – athletes included – would agree that the priority is the people who need it most; the frontline workers, the elderly, those with health issues and that’s the first wave of vaccination.

‘There will come a time, hopefully in late spring/summer ahead of the Olympic Games when the athletes can be vaccinated. But we’ll do that when it’s appropriate and when the government feels it’s appropriate.’ 

Despite growing infection rates in Japan, Bach and Suga tried to ease concerns the Games would be cancelled in their New Year messages. 

The Japanese prime minister said: ‘This summer, we will hold the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are a symbol of world unity. We will make steady preparations to realise a safe and secure event.’

Bach added: ‘Tokyo is still the best prepared Olympic city ever. We thank our Japanese partners for their great commitment and their determination to organise these Games in a safe and secure way.’

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