IOC President Thomas Bach visits the National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games postponed until July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Behrouz Mehri/Pool via AP

Olympic athletes won't be forced to get COVID-19 vaccinations, says Bach

By Jack Tarrant

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Tuesday that athletes would not be forced to get COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, but he said they should as a "demonstration of solidarity" with the Japanese.

Bach visited the Athletes' Village on Tuesday before concluding his two-day Tokyo trip with a visit to the National Stadium.

"We will encourage athletes that whenever possible they have the vaccination because it is better for their health, and it is also a demonstration of solidarity with their fellow athletes and also the Japanese people," said the German.

Bach's trip, his first to Japan since the decision to postpone the Games in March, has been up-beat throughout and he has spoken about the great impact a vaccine could have on Tokyo’s ability to host the Olympics next year.

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.

However, when pressed whether athletes were going to jump the queue to get any potential vaccine before the Games, Bach was adamant this wouldn’t be the case.

"We made it clear from the very beginning that the first priorities are for the nurses, medical doctors and everybody who keeps our society alive, despite the coronavirus crisis," Bach told reporters at the National Stadium.

"These are the people who deserve to be the first ones to be vaccinated."

Tokyo 2020 organisers are holding a project review meeting this week and hope to decide on a range of COVID-19 counter-measures, including whether spectators will be allowed in venues next year.

A small group of anti-Olympics protesters gathered outside the stadium during Bach's visit, and their chanted slogans could be heard as he walked alone down the running track and looked up at the empty seats surrounding him.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Nice they can force the Olympic s in the middle of the pandemic on the J taxpayer who overwhelming my want the games postponed but they can not " force " the athletes to be vaccinated. If anyone needed more proof the Games are just about pork for J-Inc and IOC , here it is.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Nobody should be "forced" to use any health measure, but it is rational to make it a requisite to undergo something that can prove immunity, at this time there is no option, but depending on the results of phase III trials a vaccine would be an easy way to do it; hopefully other methods will also be developed. There is nothing wrong or even new in asking for immunizations, people have to do it all the time when traveling to several countries.

Unfortunately it has become clear that the health of the athletes, spectators or the public in general is not the first priority for any of the organizers. The whole thing is based on screening that has been proved to be useless to prevent the appearance of clusters and asking people to "be solidary" instead of putting strict rules that would at least guarantee some safety.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

There he is again. With his N95 mask on, like he's going to fight Ebola somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa...

-1 ( +6 / -7 ) on as usual.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

We don't know what the Covid-19 situation will be like worldwide by Olympics time next year, but if things have improved to the extent where international travel is once again possible, but on the proviso that visitors are only allowed in to another country if they've been vaccinated, why should exemptions be made for athletes? Are they somehow immune from being possible spreaders, or victims, of infection?

Sure, no-one should be forced to have a vaccination. But the IOC should be telling all athletes, support staff and team officials - no vaccination, no travel, no Olympics.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Somebody please tell me what products Moderna has successfully introduced and also what proof of safety have mRNA vaccines been shown to have?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

the very fact that a chump like bach is president of the ioc tells you just how useless and ridiculous the olympics are

11 ( +11 / -0 )

What a contradiction! He says they vulnerable groups should get precedence for the vaccin but knows very well not any vaccins can be available before the Olympics in order for those groups to all get vaccinated. If he means what he says and is consistent that means there can be no Olympics.

Also only vaccinating the athletes and not all supporting staff and other visitors is useless more so because their interactions with others in Japan will be much greater than the athletes.

I am surprised how Bach is misreading this situation and by the futility of his arguments. He has not done the LOC 2020 a favour with this visit

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The arrogance of the IOC is something else.

in a normal world, Japan would tell the IOC that only athletes who get vaccinated will be allowed in.

the IOC likes to play god but they don’t realize their power is waning. Maybe the athletes will just say they aren’t coming like they did last year.

it’s time for these arrogant old corrupt troglodytes to go away

12 ( +13 / -1 )

This Olympics looks like a fait accompli which will steamroller over all of the legitimate concerns people have. I think the only thing that could stop it is other countries refusing to turn up.

I just hope that here in Japan, everyone's memories are not short and we do not go through this very expensive charade again very soon for a Winter Olympics in Sapporo. The plans are still there for a bid for 2030, and with limited takers, it is likely to "win".

5 ( +6 / -1 )

vaccines won't be available for a year anyway. Certainly not to rich atheletes

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I think the only thing that could stop it is other countries refusing to turn up.

Of course. This has been known for a long time. There is no way the Olympics would be canceled without an external force. There is too much money involved to care about people.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The athletes initially cancelled immediately following a tone deaf speech by Bach, so there's no way they're coming

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Part of me wants to see an olympics with no audience and no participants. That would be the most "I told you so" moment for the new decade.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Somebody please tell me what products Moderna has successfully introduced and also what proof of safety have mRNA vaccines been shown to have?

None & none (except for some press releases).

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Nice they can force the Olympic s in the middle of the pandemic

Why does everybody forget about the totally uncontrollable nuclear disaster 120km away or the yearly heat attacks that fill all available hospital beds at that time?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The day before Tokyo's highest ever daily increase. There are no words to describe Bach's irresponsibility.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Are the Olympics REALLY that important? Surely there are other things in life which should get priority.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kurisupisu - what proof of safety have mRNA vaccines been shown to have?

There are no RNA vaccines in use at the moment but they show great promise in infectious disease and cancer control. Plus they are cheaper and easier to produce than standard vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be the first such vaccines to pass public safety testing...if they do. But it is looking promising.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No vaccination, no entry to Japan, athlete or not - go clog up your own healthcare system.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites