Paralympics Australia has announced athletes must be vaccinated if they want to go to Tokyo.
- Some aspiring Paralympians have refused to have the COVID-19 vaccination
- Paralympics Australia has made the jab mandatory
- Australia’s able-bodied Olympians are allowed to go without being vaccinated
But the same rules do not apply to prospective able-bodied Olympians.
Paralympics chef de mission Kate McLoughlin said the decision to bar athletes from the Games if they have not been vaccinated was made to keep the Australian team safe.
“If we have unvaccinated people in the team, it poses a risk to both those athletes or officials who refuse to have the jab, because we know that there will be COVID in the village.”
Those who refuse vaccinations will receive one-on-one consultations.
“I could count on one hand the number of people who we are in discussions with — it’s very few,” Ms McLoughlin said.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has stated it is following IOC advice by not making jabs mandatory, but it is still strongly urging athletes receive vaccinations.
Vaccine programs are already underway, with many athletes due to receive their second jabs in coming weeks.
The AOC expects there may be some athletes who come forward with medical or philosophical opposition, but none have done so yet.
Ms McLoughlin said the policy means some prospective Paralympians may be barred from going.
“Look it could be, and it was a very difficult decision to come to, but we’ve mulled over it for a while now,” she said.
An AOC spokesperson said take-up of vaccinations at hubs had been “outstanding”.
So far, 124 athletes out of a potential team size of more than 460 have received jabs.
The able-bodied Olympics start on July 23. The Paralympics are set to start on August 24.