Britain’s athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics… but deal struck between the IOC and Pfizer will NOT impact jab supplies for the general public
All British athletes and support staff will be vaccinated against Covid-19 before flying to Tokyo for the Olympics this summer, after Boris Johnson finally gave Team GB permission to use the Pfizer jabs.
As Sportsmail reported earlier this week, British Olympic officials had been growing anxious about running out of time to vaccinate all athletes after being made to wait for more than two weeks since the IOC announced their inoculation scheme with Pfizer BioNtech.
The IOC wrote to all the national Olympic committees on Wednesday, stating they expected over 80 per cent of participants to be vaccinated by July 23 when the Games begin.
Team GB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated for this year’s Olympics in Tokyo
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been lobbying in favour of the scheme and Johnson gave his blessing, with the proviso that inoculating young, fit athletes will not impact on supplies meant for the public.
‘The UK Government has confirmed that, through an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and Pfizer BioNtech, Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated,’ a BOA spokesperson said. ‘The vaccines will be obtained directly from Pfizer, and will not impact current supplies for the British public.’
Despite the guarantee, it is understood that vaccinations will not be a pre-requisite for athletes’ selection for and travel to the Games, should they wish to turn down the opportunity.
The IOC announced last month that it had reached an agreement with Pfizer to make vaccines available to athletes in those nations not in a position to prioritise jabs for those heading to the Japanese capital.
A deal was struck between the IOC and Pfizer but supplies for the British public will not be hit
Britain found itself among a minority of major medal-winning nations not to promise vaccinations for athletes beyond the natural roll-out, citing the importance of prioritising the vulnerable and key-workers.
News of the deal between the IOC and Pfizer effectively brought an end to any moral dilemma, with officials keen to stress the additional vaccines for athletes will come from those additional doses, rather than the existing national supply.
The move comes amid increasing unease about staging the Games in Tokyo, which remains under a state of emergency, and with Japan having so far managed to vaccinate only around four per cent of its total population.
Team GB’s swimming team, who will be offered vaccinations, are seen ahead of the Olympics