Japan begins vaccinating Olympic athletes, organizers say

Japan begins vaccinating Olympic athletes, organizers say

Japan has begun vaccinating its athletes ahead of the Olympics next month, the organizers announced.

The Japanese Olympic Committee said Tuesday that about 200 athletes were fully vaccinated at a training center, according to The Associated Press.

The athletes were not named, and coverage of the event was restricted.

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Mitsugi Ogata, a Japanese Olympic Committee official, said the vaccination efforts for athletes are “conducted in a different organization from those for the nation,” according to AP.

The Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on July 23. Foreign spectators are banned from the games, but support staff are still expected to attend.

According to AP, more than 15,000 athletes from over 200 countries and territories are slated to attend, as well as thousands of judges, officials and media.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in November that all athletes should get vaccinated beforehand if they have access, however, it would be “their free decision” on whether they do so.

The IOC struck a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech in early May in which the drugmakers would donate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they co-developed for athletes and delegations participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The beginning of the efforts for Olympic athletes come amid a lagging vaccination rate in Japan as a whole.

According to data from John Hopkins University, 3.4 million people have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, or 2.72 percent of the nation’s population. More than 13.2 million doses have been administered thus far.