Report: Elite Athletes to Get Coronavirus Vaccinations to ‘Save’ Tokyo Olympics

A reporter wearing a face mask stands next to the banners of the Tokyo Olympic Games during a Tokyo 2020 press conference about the spread of the new coronavirus in Tokyo on March 11, 2020. - Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer are going ahead "as scheduled," organisers …
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization-backed scientists are reportedly working alongside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on a plan to issue bulk vaccinations to thousands of elite athletes and sports administrators to ensure the postponed Tokyo Olympics go ahead.

A report published Saturday by the Daily Telegraph says accelerating coronavirus jabs for competitors is underway, even as national programs still struggle to get started to help protect everyday citizens.

Japan has invested a reported $25 billion to organize the Olympics, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has repeated that the games must take place – hence the urgency of the mass vaccination plan even as more Japanese citizens push back against the games.

High-level meetings are advancing with the W.H.O.’s Covax project, a sub-group of vaccine experts accelerating distribution to developing nations prompting an ethical debate, with other sporting bodies such as the Premier League in the UK ruling out buying stock for footballers.

Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, suggested last November the body would cover at least some of the costs of a huge vaccination effort.

Para-swimming world champion Tully Kearney is one athlete who insists competitors at the Olympics and Paralympics should not be allowed to jump to the head of the line for the jab, even if it stopped the Games being cancelled.

She told the Telegraph, “No, I don’t think that should be allowed at all. The global pandemic is bigger than sport and sporting events.” Kearney added:

The health of the country – the health of the world – is more important than making sure a small population of the world can go together and compete. They’ve not completely finished vaccinating the clinically extremely vulnerable groups. So, it’s obviously more important for those groups to get vaccinated.

Kearney said she had not even thought about the impact of vaccination on her participation at Tokyo 2020 when she was called recently for her own jab.

Me being the clinically extremely vulnerable group, it was more important for me to have it as soon as I was called forward to have it for my health rather than thinking about competing. I’m really happy, really grateful to the scientists and the NHS and just really happy that I’ve been able to have it.

As Breitbart News reported, the Olympics are to open on July 23 but face mounting opposition at home as coronavirus cases surge in Tokyo, across Japan and across the globe.

Tokyo and other parts of Japan are under emergency orders with about 4,200 deaths in the country attributed to COVID-19.

The IOC and local organizers have said the Olympics cannot be postponed again. They will be canceled this time if they can’t go forward.

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: or e-mail to:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.