The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday urged national Olympic committees to request more Chinese and Pfizer vaccines against the coronavirus ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the country where the coronavirus outbreak was detected for the first time.
The IOC first announced a vaccine distribution program with Chinese authorities for athletes and officials in March. The IOC purchased the Chinese vaccines and made them available to delegations preparing to attend the Tokyo Olympics for countries that had authorized their use.
In May, Pfizer and BioNTech donated doses of their COVID-19 vaccines for delegations attending the Tokyo Games. Such a scheme has now been extended to include the Beijing Games, the IOC announced on Friday.
About 100 countries are expected to compete in the Beijing Games, which begin on February 4. 205 national delegations attended the Tokyo Games. Vaccination is not mandatory, although it is recommended.
“I would like to urge those National Olympic Committees that require additional doses of the vaccine … to inform our Committee Relations department as soon as possible so that we can make the necessary arrangements,” said IOC President Thomas Bach, in a letter to the national Olympic delegations on Friday.
China’s health authorities this week indicated that more than 1 billion people, or 72% of the country’s population of 1.4 billion, are fully vaccinated.
Still, the Beijing Games are expected to be organized within the same safety limits applied for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Bach noted the “excellent cooperation we have with our Chinese associates and friends, as well as the relevant Chinese health authorities.”
Bach’s letter was published on the same day that the organizers of the Beijing Games held an event to reveal the event’s motto, “Together for a Shared Future.” (AP)