The International Olympic Committee announced its encouragement for participating athletes to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before the Tokyo Olympics begins in July.
The IOC noted that "vulnerable groups, nurses [and] medical doctors" should receive vaccine priority. But when the COVID-19 vaccine is available to the public, the IOC "calls for Olympic and Paralympic teams to be vaccinated given their role as ambassadors," worldwide.
"The IOC will work with the NOCs to encourage and assist their athletes, officials and stakeholders to get vaccinated in their home countries, in line with national immunization guidelines, before they go to Japan," the IOC said in a statement. "This is to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the Japanese people, who should be confident that everything is being done to protect not only the participants but also the Japanese people themselves."
The Tokyo Olympics are currently slated to be held as scheduled beginning July 23. Japan has battled a surge of COVID-19 cases in recent months, though Tokyo Olympic president Yoshiro Mori remains optimistic that the games will be held in a safe and timely manner.
“Spring will always come, morning will surely come even after long nights,” Mori said. “Believing in that, to give joy and hope to many people, we will do our best until the end.”
The IOC continues to work with the World Health Organization as the Games approach. There will also be a slate of COVID-19 precautions taken in Tokyo, including "immigration procedures, quarantine measures, testing, personal protective equipment, contact tracing and also vaccinations," per the IOC.