The Chinese Communist Party offered to provide COVID-19 vaccine doses for all athletes competing at the Olympic games in Tokyo later this year and Beijing next year.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach praised China’s offer in an announcement Thursday, according to The Washington Post. He said China’s offer represented the “true Olympic spirit of solidarity.”
#UPDATE Olympic chief Thomas Bach says competitors at this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games will be offered coronavirus vaccines bought from Chinahttps://t.co/ymoBmIK8jm for #AFPSports pic.twitter.com/Un1mUMyLCr
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 11, 2021
The IOC is offering to pick up the costs for vaccinated all Olympic and Paralympic games athletes, and will also pay for two additional doses to be made available in athletes’ countries, Bach said. Olympic organizers have said that it will not be required that athletes are vaccinated in order to compete, but they encourage everyone to get vaccinated if possible. (RELATED: Will You Need A ‘Vaccine Passport’ To Return To Normal Life?)
The IOC said it was working out details of the plan, but that the vaccine will be made available in all countries where the Chinese shot has been approved. China has played a leading role in the World Health Organization’s Covax program, which seeks to equitably spread vaccine doses around the world to developing countries. Although, a study from January seemed to show that the Chinese vaccine was only 50% effective. By comparison to Pfitzer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca were over 90% effective. (RELATED: China Approves 1st Homegrown Coronavirus Vaccine)
The Tokyo Olympics were originally slated to take place in 2020, but were pushed back to 2021 due to the pandemic. Now, some have begun to call for boycotts of the 2022 Beijing games due to human rights abuses taking place in China against the Uyghur Muslims.
The IOC has not publicly criticized China. United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee chair Susanne Lyons has said the U.S. program does not support a boycott. “We want to acknowledge that there’s been a steady drumbeat of concern about the human rights situation in Beijing,” she said Wednesday. “While we would never want to minimize what is happening from a human rights perspective in China, as a values-based organization, we support inclusion, respect and equality for all, but I do want to state … that we do not support an athlete boycott.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the situation Thursday and said the U.S. still plans to have enough vaccine doses for all American adults by the end of May. “That would include Olympic athletes,” she added.