The NOC*NSF and the Dutch Athletes’ Commission believe the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should play a leading role in the potential vaccination of athletes in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics. According to NOC*NSF, otherwise, an unfair playing field threatens to emerge between countries where athletes have already been vaccinated and countries where it has not yet. At the moment, the university sports organization does not intend to appeal to the Dutch government for “priority” in the vaccination process for Olympic athletes.
“We believe the IOC should play a greater role in this,” a spokesperson for the National Oil Corporation*NSF said. “The ideas we have are put on paper and sent to the IOC. The discussions we have on this are still ongoing. It may just be a theoretical discussion, given the unprecedented speed with which vaccines are being approved and produced now. In any case, we do not intend to take Priority in the vaccination process if not all of those vulnerable groups have been vaccinated yet.”
Henkelin Schroeder, president of the Dutch Athletes’ Committee, agrees. The most at-risk groups must first qualify. “And these are not the athletes,” the former swimmer said. “We are on the eve of a complex discussion. That is why it would be good for the IOC to take a lead in this matter.”
Schroeder knows that in some countries athletes are already vaccinated. “In rich countries, vaccines are available, but in less affluent countries, athletes are at the bottom of the queue. How fair is that in the run-up to the Games? Another important question is to what extent athletes who go to Tokyo can be forced to take a vaccine. The IOC appeals to the principle of solidarity: As an athlete, you are a guest in Tokyo and the Games are only possible if everyone is vaccinated. But everyone has the right to self-determination. It is very difficult to manipulate this for sporting purposes and to distinguish accordingly. It is a complex issue.”
The head of the Athletes’ Committee expects the games that were postponed for a year to continue next summer, despite all the questions that still have to be answered. “I think the IOC and Japan are all about that. But the big question is: In what form? I think our athletes still really want to go to the Games. For an Olympic athlete, that remains the highest level that can be achieved.”
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