International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said that athletes for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games are encouraged to get vaccinated, although the IOC will not issue obligatory requirements.
Asked by reporters constantly about vaccines during his visit to the Olympic village and the Olympic Stadium, Bach on Tuesday made it clear that if an effective vaccine is available, the IOC will be happy to see the athletes take it before arriving in Tokyo, reports Xinhua news agency.
“This will be no requirement,” he said after touring the Olympic village by the Tokyo Bay. “But we will encourage athletes when it is possible to have a vaccination because it is better for their health. It is also the demonstration of solidarity with their fellow athletes and the Japanese people.”
“So I hope if a vaccine is available as many as possible athletes will accept vaccination,” he added.
But Bach stressed that in the end it will be up to the athletes themselves to decide whether or not to take a vaccine.
“There are too many issues to be considered. This is a question of private health. It is also a question of health condition of each person. It is a question of availability. The IOC will appeal to athletes and other participants in particular those living in the village, to have vaccination. But it will be their free decision.”
“It is good for their safety and their health,” he said. “It is also a sign of respect for their fellow athletes. It is a sign of respect for the Japanese host. They can feel confident and they can feel safe.”
He believed that “many, many athletes will follow the advice”.
During his tour of the Olympic Stadium, he stressed that point again and also said the nurses and medical workers should be put ahead of the athletes to get vaccinated.
“If it is available, we will encourage the athletes and all participants in the games, particularly those living in the village to get vaccinated. But there is no question that the priority should go to the nurses, the doctors and everybody who keeps us safe during the coronavirus.”
He said with rapid testing methods available and sports events successfully organised around the world, people can “look forward to a great Olympic Games” in nine months.