Covid vaccines ‘encouraged’ but not compulsory for Olympic athletes, IOC confirm

The IOC is helping to facilitate the distribution of vaccines but won’t make them compulsory for

Ian Ransom
Thursday 25 February 2021 10:23
General view of the Olympic rings
General view of the Olympic rings

Vaccines are being encouraged but won’t be compulsory for Olympic athletes, the IOC have confirmed.

IOC president Thomas Bach said last month it was up to national Olympic committees to coordinate with their governments over access to vaccines but he was not in favour of athletes “jumping the queue”.

“Not compulsory, we can’t do that,” IOC vice president John Coates said on Thursday.

“But it is certainly being encouraged and the IOC has an agreement with COVAX where it’s helping to facilitate the distribution of vaccines.”

COVAX is the World Health Organisation’s global vaccine-sharing scheme.

With the delayed Games set to begin on 23 July, Coates, who is also president of the Australian Olympic Committee, expected the country’s athletes to be vaccinated by June at “the latest”.

Australia began its vaccine roll-out this week.

Coates also said Japan’s government was expected to make a decision on how many fans could attend the Olympics by April.

Organisers hope to have spectators at the Games though speculation remains that the event might be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A decision on all of the accredited people and all of those who have bought tickets in Japan will certainly be there,” he said.

“A final decision will be taken by the Japanese government, it’s governments that decide these things on what’s safe and, a bit later, probably March, April ... a decision on what venue capacity we are going to have.”

Coates said officials had to make the Athletes Village and venues “the safest place in Tokyo”.

“Last week we had four days of operational planning, we are down now to looking at the seating on the buses to make sure there’s the correct distancing,” he said.

“Well that’s all very well, we suddenly need double the fleet of buses and there’s a lot of buses involved.”


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