Japan will start vaccinating its Olympic athletes from June 1

The vaccines will cover around 600 athletes and 1,000 staffers.
The vaccines will cover around 600 athletes and 1,000 staffers.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan will begin vaccinating its Olympic athletes from June 1, as the country moves ahead with preparations for the Games despite looming doubts over whether they can be held.

The vaccines will cover around 600 athletes and 1,000 staffers who will be in close contact with them, such as coaches, officials from the Japanese Olympic Committee said at a briefing in Tokyo on Wednesday (May 26). The doses will be administered at Japan's National Training Centre on a voluntary basis.

While Japan's vaccination programme currently covers those 65 or over, as well as medical workers, athletes taking part in the Games can be vaccinated under a donation agreement reached between the International Olympic Committee and Pfizer and BioNTech to provide doses to athletes.

The agreement, reached earlier this month, was the latest in a series of moves aimed at assuaging fears surrounding the Games, which intensified Tuesday after the United States said Americans should avoid travelling to Japan amid a recent rise in cases. The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23.

Mr Tamayo Marukawa, the minister in charge of the Olympics, said on Tuesday that Japan will receive around 20,000 vaccine doses, which will also be given to those working at the games, such as interpreters and referees, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Although Japan has been criticised for the late start to its vaccination campaign, the pace has picked up in recent weeks, with the country inoculating around 400,000 people a day. Almost 10 million doses have been administered to date.