Richard ‘Dick’ Pound, the longest-serving IOC member, believes athletes from across the globe should be considered as priorities for a COVID-19 vaccination to ensure the delayed Tokyo 2020 games goes ahead as planned. The event was delayed by 12 months last summer as the COVID-19 virus swept across the globe, and there are growing concerns they will be postponed again due to mounting cases in Japan. Host city Tokyo is even facing a possible new state of emergency with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to make a decision on restrictions on Thursday. Pound‘s comments come just weeks after IOC president Thomas Bach insisted athletes will not be forced to get COVID-19 vaccinations and cannot jump the queue to get vaccinated first. Bach, who visited the Athletes’ Village in November during a two-day Tokyo trip with a visit to the National Stadium, said that mandatory shots would be ‘going too far’. More than 11,000 athletes are expected to descend upon Tokyo for the Olympics, which are due to begin on July 23, with thousands more coming for the subsequent Paralympics. The IOIC is already trying to help athletes get vaccines in countries where there is not going to be a wide-scale rollout in the coming months.
Carmelo De Grazia