This is not only to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the residents of Japan.
While the organization of the Tokyo Olympic Games continues to worry the Japanese population, the Pfizer and BioNTech laboratories promised this Thursday to provide vaccines to the participants, unequally protected at this time depending on the country in which they live.
The two companies, whose injection dominates global vaccination campaigns, announced that they will “coordinate with national Olympic committees around the world” the first deliveries of vaccines, which will begin at the end of May.
The IOC always ruled out making the vaccination mandatory for the Games (July 23-August 8), as well as demanding a prioritization of athletes, which is difficult to justify on the ethical plane, but has been encouraging a maximum of participants to get vaccinated for months.
In a note, the two laboratories indicated that the objective of the memorandum of understanding signed with the IOC is that “the participating delegations receive their second dose before their arrival” in the Japanese capital.
These doses will be added to deliveries already planned as part of orders made by national governments or the international initiative Covax.
“Our vaccine is only available in 91 countries and 200 nations are participating in the Games,” so “the IOC wanted to make sure that all delegations could have access to it,” Pfizer boss Albert Bourla told AFP.
“It is a logistical effort to offer doses to all participants who wish to do so (…) We will speak in each country with the national Olympic Committee and the government, nothing can be done without the approval of the authorities,” he stressed.
In the note, the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, pointed out that the distribution of vaccines “is another instrument in the toolbox of measures that will help make these Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo-2020 a safe event for all participants, while showing our solidarity with our host, Japan. ”
As part of the plans to ensure safe and secure @Tokyo2020, the IOC has signed an 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.https://t.co/Ne3sLgM1se
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) May 6, 2021
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, postponed a year due to the pandemic, should receive about 11,000 athletes, although a considerable number of that total have already received at least one dose of one of the covid-19 vaccines, “or have the promise to receive it, “according to the IOC.
The agreement with Pfizer-BioNTech will serve to vaccinate thousands of athletes, but also members of the delegations.
“By accepting the vaccine, (the athletes and members of the delegations) can send a powerful message, that it is not only their personal health that is at stake, but also the solidarity and well-being of others”, insists Thomas Bach in the notice.
The IOC, based in Lausanne (Switzerland), has been promising “safe” Games for months, even without widespread vaccination. The organization still recently insisted on the “340 major sporting events” that could bring together “more than 41,000 athletes” despite the pandemic, thanks to a battery of health precautions.
However, the agreement announced this Thursday represents a fundamental element for the Games, since the Tokyo region and other Japanese departments are in a state of emergency due to the increase in the number of covid-19 cases, which raises a doubt persistent about the event.
On March 11, the IOC had announced that it would buy its “additional doses of vaccines” from China, in a first attempt to accelerate efforts to protect participants, but the quantities were never specified, and neither was the timetable.
Pfizer made its proposal to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last month, Japanese Minister for the Olympic Games Tamayo Marukawa said Thursday in Tokyo.
“As a government, we receive (this agreement) in a positive way and we want to quickly adopt measures with the organizations concerned to make it happen,” she said.
Under these conditions, the Games still constitute an important health puzzle in Japan, which is beginning its own vaccination campaign very slowly, while the Japanese authorities decided to prohibit the arrival of spectators from abroad.
When the Japanese hospital system is under intense pressure, Tokyo-2020 has been criticized for having requested the collaboration of Japanese medical personnel for the event, and the organizers are considering holding it behind closed doors for the first time in history.
To try to appease the skepticism of the Japanese population, widely in favor of a new postponement or an annulment, Tokyo-2020 last week reinforced the anti-virus measures imposed on the Olympic delegations and the media. (AFP)