Canadian athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics in Japan should have preferential access to the vaccine program and collect two doses before leaving for Tokyo, according to sports officials.
“Why wouldn’t we take care of these people, not just players, but coaches and support staff, who are going into a possible petri dish, if most Canadians are going to be vaccinated by Canada Day, at least a first shot?” Athletics Canada’s CEO, David Bedford, said.
Bedford stated that having all athletes and support personnel completely vaccinated is in Canada’s “public interest” since they are representing the country on the world’s largest athletic stage.
The Australian government announced on Tuesday that all of its athletes and support staff would be vaccinated ahead of time, allowing them to participate safely at the Games. Several other countries have followed suit.
Swimming Canada’s high-performance owner, John Atkinson urged the Canadian Olympic Committee and the government to get athletes vaccinated as soon as possible.
The calls for priority vaccines for Canadian athletes follow the International Olympic Committee’s second “playbook” declaration on Wednesday.
The IOC released the second of three playbooks detailing how it would attempt to keep athletes and support staff healthy during the Tokyo Games, with parts of Japan, including Tokyo, in a state of emergency and a third wave ravaging the region.
The most significant change since the first playbook was published in February is that athletes will now be screened regularly, rather than every four days, and will be required to have two negative tests before leaving their home countries for the Games.
Athletes, coaches, and support personnel will also be prohibited from using public transportation and will be required to eat in designated areas that adhere to strict hygiene standards.
Vaccinations are not needed, and while Canadian sports officials have called for priority care, the Canadian Olympic Committee has stated that its stance on vaccinations has not changed.
When the athlete vaccination controversy erupted in Canada earlier this year, several Olympic athletes made it clear that they didn’t feel comfortable skipping the line to get the shot.
Georgia Simmerling, who has competed in three previous Olympic Games, will participate in cycling in Tokyo. She claims she is uncomfortable with moving ahead of other Canadians who need the vaccine more urgently.