WORLD / ASIA-PACIFIC
Vaccines 'encouraged' but not compulsory for athletes at Tokyo: Coates
Published: Feb 25, 2021 06:58 PM
Athletes are being encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games but it will not be compulsory, IOC Vice President John Coates said on Thursday.

Chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games coordination committee John Coates, wearing a face mask, speaks during a joint press conference with organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on November 18, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: VCG

"Not compulsory, we can't do that," Coates, head of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games, told reporters in Brisbane.

"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 WHO's global vaccine-sharing scheme.

IOC President Thomas Bach said in January it was up to national Olympic committees to coordinate with their governments over access to vaccines but he was not in favor of athletes "jumping the queue."

With the delayed Games set to begin on July 23, 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 rollout this week.

Coates also said Japan's government was expected to make a decision on how many fans could attend the Olympics by April. Organizers hope to have spectators at the Games though speculation remains that the event might be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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