Encouraged but not compulsory: IOC vice president on athletes being vaccinated for Tokyo 2020

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Feb 25, 2021, 01:54 PM(IST) Updated: Jun 02, 2021, 02:09 PM(IST)

In this file phot, a man walks past the Olympic Rings as he walks out of the 133rd IOC session in Buenos Aires. Photograph:( Reuters )

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"But it is certainly being encouraged and the IOC has an agreement with COVAX where it's helping to facilitate the distribution of vaccines."

International Olympic Association (IOC) vice president John Coates on Thursday said that athletes are being encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the Tokyo Olympics but it will not be compulsory. 

The comment comes after IOC chief Thomas Bach's statement, last month, where he said that individual national Olympic committees would coordinate vaccine roll-outs, but that he was not in favour of athletes "jumping the queue".

"Not compulsory, we can't do that," Coates, the head of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games, told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday.

"But it is certainly being encouraged and the IOC has an agreement with COVAX where it's helping to facilitate the distribution of vaccines."

The postponed Olympics are set to kick off on July 23, and Coates, who is also president of the Australian Olympic Committee, expected Australia's athletes to be vaccinated by June at "the latest".

According to Coates, the Japanese government is expected to decide on how many fans could attend the Olympics by April. The Organisers of Tokyo 2020 are hopeful that the Games will be host spectators, while many believe the event might get cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic. 

"A decision on all of the accredited people and all of those who have bought tickets in Japan will certainly be there," Coates said.

"A final decision will be taken by the Japanese government. It's governments that decide these things on what's safe and, a bit later, probably March, April ... a decision on what venue capacity we are going to have."

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