No athletes have requested pre-Olympic vaccinations yet: Tokyo organising committee

The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated, causing concern about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that are scheduled to open in just over three months

Updated - April 23, 2021 07:22 pm IST

Published - April 20, 2021 04:26 pm IST - Tokyo

Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Committee Chairperson Naoko Takahashi prepares to attend Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and the Japanese Paralympic Committee (JPC) three-party joint athletes' committee meeting Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Tokyo.

Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Committee Chairperson Naoko Takahashi prepares to attend Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and the Japanese Paralympic Committee (JPC) three-party joint athletes' committee meeting Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Tokyo.

Tokyo 2020 organising committee said on Tuesday that they received no request from athletes to vaccinate them before the opening of the Olympic games.

The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated, causing concern about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that are scheduled to open in just over three months.

Naoko Takahashi, Chairperson, Athletes' Committee, Tokyo 2020 said during a press conference that while athletes have questions about the COVID-19 vaccinations, they were not about whether athletes can get them or not.

Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, said last week that even if the Olympics go on, it's possible the venues will be empty. This is partly because of the low vaccination rate.

Fans from abroad are already banned from the Olympics, and it's hard to imagine venues even half-filled with mostly unvaccinated fans. Many non-Japanese entering Japan are expected to be vaccinated.

Seiko Hashimoto, President of Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said while there are voices of whether the Olympics can go on or not, she and the organising committee will be more thorough in planning a Tokyo games welcomed by the public.

Kono, Hashimoto and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said the government so far has not issued any plans to vaccinate athletes.

However, Kono has said he is ready to deliver vaccines if Hashimoto and the government think they're needed.

Marukawa said last week the government is considering testing all athletes daily. Previous plans had called for virus tests every four days. That change may show up when the second version of the "Playbook" is published this month.

The IOC has said vaccines are not required to participate. However, IOC President Thomas Bach has openly encouraged athletes to be vaccinated. Of course, that causes conflict when athletes are a priority ahead of vulnerable populations.

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