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Tokyo Olympics: No athletes have yet asked for vaccinations before the Olympics, official says

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Representative photo.

The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said on Tuesday that they had not received a request from athletes to vaccinate them before the opening of the Olympic Games. The spread of the vaccine in Japan has been very slow, with less than 1% vaccinated, raising concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics, which are set to open in just over three months.

Naoko Takahashi, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Athletes Committee, told a news conference that while athletes had questions about COVID-19 vaccinations, they were not about whether athletes could get them or not.

Taro Kono, the minister responsible for introducing the vaccines, said last week that even if the Olympics continued, the seats could be vacant. This is partly due to the low vaccination rate. Fans from abroad are already banned from the Olympics, and it’s hard to imagine places, even half filled with mostly unvaccinated fans. Many non-Japanese entering Japan are expected to be vaccinated.

Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, said that although there were votes on whether or not the Olympics could continue, she and the organizing committee would be more in-depth in planning the games in Tokyo, which were welcomed by the public. Kono, Hashimoto and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said the government had so far not issued plans to vaccinate athletes.

However, Kono said he was ready to supply vaccines if Hashimoto and the government deemed them necessary. Marukawa said last week that the government is considering daily testing of all athletes. Previous plans had required virus tests every four days. This change may occur when the second version of the Playbook is released this month.

The IOC said no vaccines were needed to participate. However, IOC President Thomas Bach openly encouraged athletes to be vaccinated. Of course, this leads to conflict when athletes are a priority over vulnerable groups.

Fans from abroad are already banned from the Olympics, and it’s hard to imagine places, even half filled with mostly unvaccinated fans. Many non-Japanese entering Japan are expected to be vaccinated. Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, said that although there were votes on whether or not the Olympics could continue, she and the organizing committee would be more in-depth in planning the games in Tokyo, which were welcomed by the public.

Kono, Hashimoto and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said the government had so far not issued plans to vaccinate athletes.

The IOC has said no vaccines are required to participate, but IOC President Thomas Bach has openly encouraged athletes to be vaccinated despite the optics of athletes who may have been vaccinated before more vulnerable groups.

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