Australia began vaccinating its Olympic and Paralympic athletes against Covid-19 on Monday, in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to start in July.
Speaking in Brisbane, Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said it was not compulsory for athletes or staff to get the vaccine but hoped each would receive their first shot by “the end of next week.”
Not compulsory, highly, highly recommended, and I think hopefully the demonstration of the athletes being vaccinated today across the country is also a demonstration that the people of Australia, can get out and get vaccinated,” Carroll said.
The athletes will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 shot. The other alternative, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, has been declared by the federal government as only suitable for over-50s.
More than 2,000 Australian athletes and support staff will travel to Japan for the games, and those returning to Australia must quarantine in managed isolation for 14 days on arrival.
Carroll added that he is “very confident” that the Tokyo games would go ahead.
“No decision has been made about spectators as yet, obviously there's no foreign spectators, that's taken a load off the uncertainty for the Japanese public," he said, adding that the International Olympic Committee is doing work to explain to the Japanese public that the risk to them is very low in the Games.
Questions remain: With less than three months to go before the start of the summer Olympics, already postponed for a year due to the coronavirus, questions still remain over how Tokyo can hold the global event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe from virus.