Japan started vaccinating Tokyo Games-bound athletes for COVID-19 on Tuesday (June 1), the Japanese Olympic Committee said.
The vaccination of healthy athletes comes as only 2-3 per cent of the general population in Japan has been fully vaccinated. Japanese Olympic Committee officials said about 200 athletes were vaccinated at a training center on the first day of the rollout. Japanese Olympic Committee officials did not name any of the athletes. They also restricted coverage of the event, possibly fearing a public backlash.
Japanese Olympic Committee official Mitsugi Ogata said the vaccination of young athletes would not affect distribution to the general population, including the elderly and medical workers.
“Vaccination operations for athletes are conducted in a different organization from those for the nation,” Ogata said.
The Tokyo Olympics are to open on July 23. The International Olympic Committee said being vaccinated was not required for participating in the Games. However, the IOC has encouraged all athletes to be vaccinated.
President Thomas Bach said he believed more than 80 percent of the residents of the Olympic Village in Tokyo will be vaccinated.
Olympic officials said having athletes vaccinated will make the Japanese public feel increased safety in regard to holding the Olympics.
Opinion polls in Japan showed 50-80 percent of the Japanese public — depending how the question is phrased — as opposing holding the Olympics in July.