The International Paralympic Committee has revealed that some athletes have already started receiving vaccinations against COVID-19, ahead of the release of new guidelines that will show that Tokyo Games organisers are in a much better position than the public believes.
With a recent poll suggesting around 80% of people in Japan do not want the Games to be held this summer, and rising coronavirus cases across the world, organisers are battling to prove they can hold the Games safely in Tokyo.
Organisers of the postponed Olympic Games in Japan are increasingly bullish that the Games will go ahead as planned, and have been bolstered by the millions of vaccinations across the world, including for some athletes.
More than 15 000 competitors are expected at the Games scheduled to be staged from July 23rd to the 8th of August. They were postponed from last year because of the global pandemic.
International Paralypic Committee spokesperson, Craig Spence, is adamant that the Games will go ahead as planned in just under six months from now.
“Now, I know in some countries, for example, they have started vaccinating Olympians and Paralympians. There will be many athletes who come to the Games next year who will have been vaccinated before the opening ceremony, which puts us in a much stronger position.”
Spence says although the International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, has said that participants will be encouraged to get vaccinated, it will not be mandatory to do so.
“I have seen British paralympians being vaccinated, because they are seen as vulnerable members of society. I have seen some athletes – I think in Israel – that have been vaccinated. So, I am seeing here, there and everywhere on Twitter, various athletes tweeting about the fact that they have received the vaccine. We are aware that many Paralympians around the world have either had it, or are in line to get the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.”
Many athletes and national bodies have stressed they do not want to jump the queue ahead of more vulnerable citizens. But more paralympians are likely to be vaccinated soon as they may fall within vulnerable categories.
However, Spence stressed that organisers were not relying on the vaccines for a successful staging of the summer showpiece.