Summer Games athletes eligible for Pfizer vaccine under deal with IOC

Olympics organizers struck a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech on Thursday that will offer a COVID-19 vaccine to athletes before they head to the Summer Games in Tokyo.

The International Olympic Committee said offering a vaccine to participants in the Olympic and Paralympic Games will make the events safer and protect Japanese residents as they welcome visitors.

Donated doses will be added to global supplies and not siphoned out of any country’s planned deliveries, the committee said.

Japan and the IOC are under intense pressure to hold a safe Olympics from July 23 to Aug. 8 after they had to postpone the games by a year. Some experts are worried, citing outbreaks in Tokyo and other heavily populated areas and Japan’s sluggish vaccine rollout.

Foreign fans will be barred from attending Olympic events and athletes will be tested regularly, among other safety precautions.

“This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

Vaccination isn’t mandatory ahead of the games but organizers hope athletes will “lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible.”

“By taking the vaccine, they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration of the wellbeing of others in their communities,” Mr. Bach said.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla highlighted the importance of the games in offering the company’s vaccine.

“The return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games represents a monumental moment of world unity and peace after a grueling year of isolation and devastation,” he said. “We are proud to play a role in providing vaccines to athletes and their national Olympic delegations where possible.”

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