British athletes guaranteed Covid vaccine opportunity before travelling to Tokyo

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British athletes and support staff have been guaranteed the opportunity to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus prior to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The British Olympic Association confirmed to the PA news agency that the Government has agreed to cover jabs for the entirety of the travelling parties, using vaccines made available through a deal struck between the International Olympic Committee and Pfizer.

A BOA spokesman said: “The UK Government has confirmed that, through an agreement between the IOC and Pfizer BioNtech, Team GB and Paralympics GB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, based on the unique position of having to travel to Japan to go about their work.

Olympics Overview File Photo
Gold medal favourite Dina Asher Smith has been guaranteed a vaccine if she wants one (Mike Egerton/PA)

“The agreement means the vaccines will be obtained directly from Pfizer, and will not impact current supplies for the British public.”

Despite the guarantee, PA understands that vaccinations will not be a pre-requisite for athletes’ selection for and travel to the Games, should they wish to turn down the opportunity.

The IOC announced last month that it had reached an agreement with Pfizer to make vaccines available to athletes in those nations not a position to prioritise jabs for those heading to the Japanese capital.

The UK Government has confirmed that, through an agreement between the IOC and Pfizer BioNtech, Team GB and Paralympics GB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, based on the unique position of having to travel to Japan to go about their work.

Britain found itself among a minority of major medal-winning nations not to promise vaccinations for athletes beyond the natural roll-out, citing the importance of prioritising the vulnerable and key-workers.

News of the deal between the IOC and Pfizer effectively brought an end to any moral dilemma, with officials keen to stress the additional vaccines for athletes will come from those additional doses, rather than the existing national supply.

The move comes amid increasing unease about staging the Games in Tokyo, which remains under a state of emergency, and with Japan having so far managed to vaccinate only around four per cent of its total population.