Israel and Denmark to vaccinate all athletes for Tokyo Games

By Rohith Nair and Arvind Sriram (Reuters) - Several countries, including Israel and Denmark, said on Wednesday they would vaccinate their athletes and staff against COVID-19 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, amid global debate over whether athletes should be given priority access in the rollout.

Reuters January 28, 2021 00:12:23 IST
Israel and Denmark to vaccinate all athletes for Tokyo Games

Israel and Denmark to vaccinate all athletes for Tokyo Games

By Rohith Nair and Arvind Sriram

(Reuters) - Several countries, including Israel and Denmark, said on Wednesday they would vaccinate their athletes and staff against COVID-19 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, amid global debate over whether athletes should be given priority access in the rollout.

Global coronavirus cases surpassed 100 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as countries around the world struggle with new virus variants and vaccine shortfalls.

Israel, which leads the world on per capita vaccinations, said it had already inoculated half its Olympic athletes delegation.

"By the end of May 2021, all... will be completely vaccinated against the coronavirus," a spokeswoman from the Israel Olympic Committee told Reuters in an email.

Denmark's chef de mission Soren Simonsen said "approximately 150 athletes and 200 officials" would get the vaccine.

"In Denmark, the government will start vaccinating normal healthy people in April, so that's the earliest time slot," Simonsen said. "The Danish people should all have a vaccine by approximately July 1."

Hungary's National Olympic Committee also said its athletes would be vaccinated "in a few weeks".

The Belgian Olympic Committee (BOIC) has asked its government for "400 to 500" vaccines for Olympic athletes and their entourage to travel to the Tokyo Games but insists it is not asking for preferential treatment.

"The intention is not to pre-empt healthcare workers and vulnerable groups, but we want to protect our athletes," Johan Bellemans, chief physician of the BOIC told Belgium's Sporza TV.

"But we are not asking for preferential treatment... Obviously, we don't want our athletes to be at a competitive disadvantage."

Greece's Olympic Committee said its president and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Spyros Capralos has asked the government to prioritise its athletes after medical staff and elderly people over 80 years old were vaccinated.

"(We) will continue to put pressure on the Greek government in order to have all the athletes vaccinated," a spokesman said.

Much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of COVID-19 infections, but organisers have vowed to press ahead with the Games, which are due to open on July 23 after being postponed for a year because of the pandemic.

NO QUEUE JUMPING

Some countries are hesitant to prioritise athletes over those more in need of the vaccine.

Germany's NOC said their delegation would "wait in line" and not interfere with the country's national vaccination plan which prioritises medical and social urgency.

A British Olympic Association representative told Reuters they have not spoken to their athletes about vaccinations and their priority remains "vulnerable, elderly and front line workers".

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has yet to issue an official policy but its medical chief Jon Finnoff said U.S. athletes will not be jumping any queues to get a shot.

However, the USOPC might consider purchasing vaccines when they become available to the general public.

IOC President Thomas Bach has said that although participants will be encouraged to get vaccinated, it will not be mandatory.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has said that he was against the concept of compulsory vaccinations and did not like the idea of athletes taking priority ahead of vulnerable people or frontline workers.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair, Arvind Sriram and Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by John Stonestreet, Alex Richardson and Pritha Sarkar and Christian Radnedge)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.