1,400 Australian Olympic team members await vaccine

The Australian Olympic Committee plans to send between 450 and 480 athletes and close to 1,000 support staff to Japan.

A pole vaulter clears the pole.
Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton says having the Olympic Games go ahead as planned will be a great boost for the Australian people. Picture: Roger Sedres/CanonSA/Africa News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN, April 15 (ANA) – With less than 100 days to go before the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is waiting on authorities to learn when its 1,400 Tokyo Games team members will receive their Covid-19 vaccine.

The Guardian reported on Thursday that the AOC will send between 450 and 480 athletes and close to 1,000 support staff to Japan.

However, given a change of plan in their national vaccination programme and a restriction on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to blood-clotting concerns, the vaccination roll-out has been sluggish and the AOC has raised its concerns.

“We’re in discussion with (health minister Greg) Hunt’s office on a weekly basis… we weren’t expecting athletes or officials to be vaccinated at this time, so we’re not frustrated,” said AOC chief executive Matt Carroll.

“Crunch time starts to hit next month, because athletes will start to go overseas and the government is well aware of that,” he said.

The Tokyo Olympic Games are scheduled to start on July 23 and the road to the opening has come with many hurdles.

On Thursday they faced another setback after the city of Matsuyama cancelled its Olympic torch relay section due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, becoming the second area to cancel the event.

Meanwhile, in an interview on Sky News, Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said that having the Olympic Games go ahead as planned would be great for the Australian people and that they would not mind if their Olympic team got vaccinated ahead of some of the most vulnerable people.

“I think most Australians would understand that it’s important for the Australian people to have some normality as much as possible,” said Coulton.

“I think watching our team compete at the Olympics will be a pretty good boost.

“So I think having the Olympics is as close to a normal process as possible. I think it’s something the Australian people would probably enjoy,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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