Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Friday that Japan had not been consulted by the IOC about the Chinese vaccines and that Japanese athletes would not take them.
Published: March 12, 2021 16:04 |
Last updated: March 12, 2021 4:04 p.m.
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TOKYO: Japan will not participate in China’s offer, which has been accepted by the International Olympic Committee, to provide vaccines for participants in the postponed Tokyo Games and Beijing Winter Games next year.
Olympic- Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Friday that Japan had not been consulted by the IOC about the Chinese vaccines and that Japanese athletes would not take them. She said the vaccines are not approved for use in Japan.
« We have taken extensive infectious disease measures for the Tokyo Games to allow non-vaccination participation. Our policy of not making vaccinations a requirement « Nothing will change, » said Marukawa.
The surprise deal announced by IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday comes as China faces increasing international pressure to intern at least 1 million Muslim Uyghurs, as suggested by several governments and human rights organizations « Genocide ».
The IOC has stated that it is a sports organization that will not interfere in domestic politics in China. The IOC initially said it would not require athletes to receive vaccines, only encourage them. The deal with China puts more emphasis on providing young, healthy athletes and others with vaccines.
The IOC has announced that it will pay for the vaccines, but has not given any indication of the cost or amount. Marukawa pointed out that the Olympics will be held as if no vaccines were available, relying on testing, masks, social distancing and holding athletes in a « bubble ».
The Chinese vaccine will be distributed via international agencies or existing vaccination agreements that countries have concluded with China, Bach said. China, where the COVID-19 outbreak occurred in late 2019, has been actively involved in vaccine diplomacy, using doses developed by Sinovac and Sinopharm.
Studies have generally shown less efficacy than vaccines made outside of China were. Bach said on Thursday that « a significant number of Olympic teams have already been vaccinated ». He did not name the countries.
« The IOC will make every effort to reach as many participants as possible in the Olympic and Paralympic Games who have already been vaccinated in Japan this summer, » said Bach. Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, said in a press conference on Friday that people coming to Japan with vaccinations could reassure a skeptical public.
About 80% of Japanese in recent polls say the Olympics should be postponed or canceled, and almost as many do not want fans from abroad. Hashimoto said again that the decision on overseas fans will be made before the torch relay begins on March 25th.
Numerous reports in Japan state that a decision has already been made to ban foreign visitors. She also said a decision on the venue’s capacity will be made in April. « The sooner the better. Earlier it is better to set the direction. We have received requests to make the decision earlier, » she said.
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