BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Man in mask standing near Olympic rings in Tokyo
Olympic athletes will have the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine, thanks to Pfizer and BioNTech.
On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Pfizer-BioNTech will donate vaccines to athletes participating in the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are scheduled for July.
"This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts," said IOC President Thomas Bach in a release, urging all Olympic athletes to accept the donation despite revealing the vaccination is not mandatory.
"We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible. By taking the vaccine, they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration of the wellbeing of others in their communities," Bach added.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Tokyo Summer Olympics logo
Athletes will be able to get the vaccinations in their home countries. Delivery of the doses is scheduled to begin by the end of May, allowing athletes the ability to get their second shots before traveling to Japan. According to a statement, the newly-announced donation to Olympic athletes will not impact the supply of doses to national populations.
"The return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games represents a monumental moment of world unity and peace after a grueling year of isolation and devastation," said Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, in the release. "We are proud to play a role in providing vaccines to athletes and national Olympic delegations."
In March, the IOC announced a similar agreement with Olympic officials in China, noting that the organization will buy and distribute Chinese-made vaccines ahead of both the Tokyo Games and next year's Beijing Winter Games.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are scheduled to kick off on July 23.
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