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Pound: Give Olympians vaccine priority

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Athletes should be given priority for coronavirus vaccines to enable the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games to go ahead this year, says the longest-serving International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, Dick Pound.

"To take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature - I don't think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that," the 78-year-old Canadian told Britain's Sky News on Wednesday.

Pound, who has been an IOC member since 1978, said: "It's a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying, 'they are jumping the queue' but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead."

Meanwhile, the British Olympic Association has stressed there is no question of jumping the queue when it comes to securing vaccinations for UK athletes.

BOA chief executive Andy Anson told the PA news agency: "The priority has to be the people who need it most - frontline workers, the elderly and the vulnerable.

"There will come a time, hopefully ahead of the Olympic Games when the athletes can be considered for vaccination, but we'll only do that when it's appropriate."

IOC president Thomas Bach has called for athletes to be vaccinated ahead of the Games, due to begin on July 23, but did not say this should be made obligatory to compete.

Several nations are unlikely to have vaccination programmes up and running before the start of the Games, which have been delayed by exactly a year due to the pandemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga still says a "safe and secure" Games can go ahead despite the rapidly increasing infection numbers in Tokyo.

© DPA 2021

IMAGE CREDIT: akiwitz, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons