Japan explores vaccine priorities for Olympic athletes: report

April 6, 2021; Tokyo, JAPAN; General view of the sculpture of the Olympic rings, the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower as seen from Odaiba in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics due to begin in July 2021. Acknowledgment: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese government is considering prioritizing COVID-19 vaccines for athletes participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which begin in late July, Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan’s vaccination effort lags far behind most major economies, with only one vaccine approved and approximately one million people have received the first dose since February, even as the country struggles with a growing number of new cases. Vaccinations for the elderly should start next week.

According to government officials quoted by Kyodo late Wednesday, however, the government has begun examining the possibility of ensuring that all Olympic and Paralympic athletes are vaccinated by the end of June.

The report has sparked outrage on social media, with many commentators noting that original government vaccination plans favored health workers, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, and ordinary citizens are unlikely to get theirs before the summer.

“This is really strange. Since we have no idea whether even all seniors will get vaccinated by mid-June, will you have all the athletes? “he wrote” Aoiumi2. “

Although the vast majority of Japanese want the Olympic Games, which have already been postponed, to be canceled or postponed again, the government says they will be held as planned from July 23 – prompting some commentators to say: “They must really want the Olympics games go ahead if they come up with plans like this. “

But others had much simpler worries.

“Give it to my mother first,” one wrote. “All athletes are young and healthy.”

Reporting by Elaine Lies; Edited by Michael Perry

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