IOC president calls on athletes to be vaccinated before Tokyo Olympics

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said Tuesday that all athletes participating in the postponed Tokyo games should get vaccinated beforehand if one is available.

“The IOC will appeal to the athletes and other participants — in particular all those who are living here in the village — to have a vaccination,” Bach said Tuesday during a tour of the Athletes Villages, according to The Associated Press. “But it will be their free decision. I’m sure many, many of the athletes and the participants will follow this advice, or maybe don’t even need it and will do it on their own.”

The president expressed confidence the games, initially scheduled for summer 2020, would begin on their planned date of July 23. He was also optimistic that a “reasonable number” of fans would be able to attend, according to the AP.

The Tokyo area has seen rising cases in recent weeks after Japan initially reported only about 1,900 deaths from the virus. Bach said that doctors, nurses and other health care personnel would be prioritized for the vaccine ahead of athletes if one became available.

Bach’s comments come after two drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, reported promising results for their vaccine candidates’ effectiveness.

Bach met last month with the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission and said the IOC was “not there yet” on requiring athletes to be vaccinated, according to a recording obtained by the AP.

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“Every athlete should look at his fellow athletes and take this into consideration,” Bach told the commission, according to the AP. “Because the vaccination is not just about the individual. It’s a protection for the entire community.”

“And there I think each and everyone of us has a responsibility in this crisis, a responsibility not just for us individually but for all of the people who surround us and who are our fellow team members, who are fellow Olympians,” he added.

Tags 2020 Olympics Coronavirus International Olympic Committee Olympic Games Thomas Bach Tokyo Olympics 2020

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