Australia giving Olympic athletes, staff priority for vaccines

Australia giving Olympic athletes, staff priority for vaccines
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Australia is giving its Olympic athletes and staff priority for the coronavirus vaccines just months before the games begin.

Athletes and staff will be given the vaccine under a separate program from the public health program  “to ensure the vaccination of our athletes does not place any additional load on the public system,” Australian Olympic Committee Chief Executive Matt Carroll said, The Associated Press reported.

There will be around 2,000 vaccinations given to staff and athletes, with athletes making up 450 to 480 people out of the 2,000.

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“While vulnerable Australians remain an absolute priority as the vaccine rollout continues, National Cabinet understands the pressure our high-performance athletes have been facing as the Tokyo Games draw closer,” Government Minister for Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said.

Although vaccinations are not required for a country to participate in the games, it is strongly recommended that all athletes and staff get vaccinated if they can. 

Tokyo, where the Olympics will be held, has been struggling to get its coronavirus cases under control and entered a third state of emergency last week due to the virus.

“There will be hundreds of very grateful athletes, coaches and their families relieved to know that their hard work over five years has been worth it,” Carroll said. “This added layer of assurance is what they were seeking.”

The athletes and staff are being lumped under priority status with those above 70 years old, Indigenous people above 55 years old and health care workers, AP noted.

The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo have already been postponed from last summer and Japanese officials have assured that the event will happen in 2021.