IOC to vaccinate athletes heading to Tokyo

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Pfizer/ BioNTech have put together a Momorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see the two pharmaceutical companies donate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they developed for athletes heading to the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. The IOC stresses that these doses are not coming from “existing quotas and planned deliveries around the world.”

National Olympic Committees will be expected to organize distribution of the vaccines “in accordance with each country’s vaccination guidelines and consistent with local regulations.”

“This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible. By taking the vaccine, they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration of the wellbeing of others in their communities.” 

The IOC has said that being vaccinated won’t be mandatory for athletes attending the Games in Tokyo, but is expecting that a “significant number” or the athletes competing will have received a vaccine before arriving in Tokyo. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has said it is expecting at least 60 percent of the athletes competing in the Paralympics will have been vaccinated by the time the competition begins in August.

In the latest Olympic “playbook” the IOC said that athletes will be tested daily during the Games and will have to two negative COVID-19 tests within 96 hours of flying to Japan. Athletes will also be limited in the time they can stay at the athlete village – they can’t arrive earlier than five days before their event and must leave within two days after.