Tokyo Olympics: Athletes won’t be forced to get coronavirus vaccines to compete next summer


Olympic athletes WON’T be forced to get coronavirus vaccines to compete in Tokyo next summer, IOC president Thomas Bach says – as he tells Olympians they CAN’T jump the queue to get vaccinated first

  • Thomas Bach revealed Olympians at Tokyo 2020 won’t be forced to get vaccines
  • He said that mandatory shots would be ‘going too far’ and it is a ‘free decision’
  • The IOC chief believes a vaccine may allow fans to attend next summer’s Games

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has announced that athletes will not be forced to get Covid-19 vaccinations to compete at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics and cannot jump the queue to get vaccinated first.  

Bach, who visited the Athletes’ Village on Tuesday before concluding his two-day Tokyo trip with a visit to the National Stadium, said that mandatory shots would be ‘going too far’.

Bach is in Tokyo to bolster confidence in the pandemic-postponed event but insisted that taking a vaccine would be a ‘free decision’ for athletes and others involved in the Games. 

IOC chief Thomas Bach has revealed Olympic athletes won’t be forced to get Covid vaccines

Bach said nurses and doctors are priorities and that athletes cannot jump the vaccine queue

Bach said nurses and doctors are priorities and that athletes cannot jump the vaccine queue

‘There are too many issues to consider. This is a question of private health. It is a question also of (the) health conditions of each and every person. It’s a question of availability,’ the German said.

‘We will encourage athletes that whenever possible they have the vaccination because it is better for their health, and it is also a demonstration of solidarity with their fellow athletes and also the Japanese people.’

Bach’s trip, his first to Japan since the decision to postpone the Games in March, has been upbeat throughout and he has spoken about the great impact a vaccine could have on Tokyo’s ability to host the Olympics next year.

More than 11,000 athletes are expected to descend upon Tokyo for the Olympics, which are due to begin on July 23, with thousands more coming for the subsequent Paralympics.

On Tuesday Bach visited the National Stadium in Tokyo where next year's Games will be held

On Tuesday Bach visited the National Stadium in Tokyo where next year’s Games will be held

He is hopeful a vaccine may allow fans to watch stars like Simone Biles compete next summer

He is hopeful a vaccine may allow fans to watch stars like Simone Biles compete next summer

However, when pressed whether athletes were going to jump the queue to get any potential vaccine before the Games, Bach was adamant this wouldn’t be the case.

‘We made it clear from the very beginning that the first priorities are for the nurses, medical doctors and everybody who keeps our society alive, despite the coronavirus crisis,’ Bach told reporters at the National Stadium.

‘These are the people who deserve to be the first ones to be vaccinated.’

Tokyo 2020 organisers are holding a project review meeting this week and hope to decide on a range of COVID-19 counter-measures, including whether spectators will be allowed in venues next year.

A small group of anti-Olympics protesters gathered outside the stadium during Bach’s visit, and their chanted slogans could be heard as he walked alone down the running track and looked up at the empty seats surrounding him.

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