Vaccine developments clear path to Tokyo Olympics next summer

By Antonio Hermosin Gandul

Tokyo, 23 November (efe-epa) – Recent developments in coronavirus vaccine production has helped clear a path towards the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer, although many practical questions remain about how the games will go ahead safely.

With several vaccines in the pipeline, optimism is rising within the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who plan to begin the games in eight months.

The “likely availability” of a vaccine for next summer would “greatly facilitate” the Tokyo Games, said IOC President Thomas Bach on Monday during a visit to the Japanese capital, adding that the IOC “will do everything possible” to promote vaccination among athletes and the public ahead of the event.

However, those responsible for the Games are still preparing for a range of scenarios, including the possibility that the vaccine won’t arrive on time, as well as potential difficulties trying to vaccinate some 11,000 athletes and many more spectators in time for the games to begin.

In Tokyo, Bach said it was up to the Japanese authorities to decide whether the vaccine would be compulsory for spectators and athletes on their arrival in Japan.

In any case, all Olympic participants will be encouraged to vaccinate and this idea will be pushed through promotional campaigns, explained the head of the IOC’s coordination commission for Tokyo 2020, John Coates, from Australia.

The IOC is also planning to set up a support system for countries with less access to the vaccine, Coates detailed during his recent visit to Tokyo with Bach, in which no further details were given as to how this aid would be implemented.

In parallel to large-scale vaccination, the IOC is considering various safety measures, including frequent coronavirus testing for athletes, social distancing where possible, and to shorten the stay of national teams in the Olympic Village, where organisers hope to establish a coronavirus-free bubble.

Japan was able to test out some of their coronavirus protocols during the artistic gymnastics tournament held in Tokyo on November 8, where 32 athletes participated from four countries.

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