Did you know that some athletes are opposed to taking the coronavirus vaccine? Yohan Blake, a Jamaican Olympic sprinter, said over the weekend he’d rather miss this year’s Tokyo Games than take the coronavirus vaccine. Blake, who won the 4×100 relay gold medals in 2012 in London and in 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, expressed his views on FOX News However, even without a vaccine, Blake will technically still be allowed to participate at the 2021 Olympic Games.
— Yohan Blake (@YohanBlake) February 28, 2021
Athletes don’t have priority for getting a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are often prioritised and distributed to front-line workers and people at risk. Getting the coronavirus vaccine could become mandatory for athletes to participate at the 2021 Olympic games in Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee isn’t requiring athletes to get the shot, but is encouraging all athletes to take the coronavirus vaccine. If vaccination becomes mandatory, many athletes could be absent from the Olympic Games, because not every country has enough vaccines available, let alone for athletes.
Nico Vergeylen, a Belgian ex-paralympic athlete, mentioned that the Belgian Olympic International Committee is lobbying to get vaccine priority for the Belgian athletes. ‘I can’t share too much about the situation to the press, the BOIC is lobbying with COVID-19 vaccine suppliers and governments to provide Belgian athletes with coronavirus vaccines,’ says Olek Kazimrowski, the Paralympic Team Belgium Head of Delegation.
The stance on vaccination timelines is a controversial one. Global News stated on their website that on Jan. 8, International Olympics Committee (IOC) official Dick Pound suggested that athletes should be prioritized for vaccines so that the Tokyo Olympics can go ahead this summer. Canadian athletes like wrestler Erica Wiebe and gymnast Kyle Shewfelt responded that while they want to compete, they did not think that athletes should be prioritized over front-line workers and high-risk people. Meanwhile, Olympic organizers continue to prepare for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Text Jellen Monsieur ; photo by Arian Zwegers, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)