British Olympic boss says some athletes refusing Covid vaccine ahead of Tokyo 2020 Games (VIDEO)
British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive Andy Anson has revealed that some Team GB athletes have refused to receive Covid vaccinations for the upcoming summer Games in Tokyo while offered to join a fast-track program.
While vaccines aren't compulsory for athletes that wish to perform at the postponed sporting spectacular, Tokyo 2020 authorities have encouraged participants to receive them.
Earlier this month, the BOA penned a letter to organizers in the Japanese capital and pledged it would do "everything we can to get the entire team fully vaccinated before we depart for Japan."
But as Anson explained to the BBC's Sports Desk podcast, this has been far from straightforward.
Exclusive: BOA chief tells me it is “not necessarily that helpful” that some in Team GB have refused to have Covid vaccine before Tokyo 2020."We’re still trying to convince some athletes” said Andy Anson https://t.co/0KvhhePa6r#bbcsportsdesk podcast:https://t.co/g9N9HSYLYSpic.twitter.com/OdxWjCSV4n— Dan Roan (@danroan) June 25, 2021
"We have been undergoing this mammoth program of vaccination of the whole Team GB entourage - so well over 1,000 people - [while] trying to get the vast majority vaccinated before they get on the plane," Anson began.
"I'm pretty sure that nearly everyone will have at least one dose and well over 90 per cent will have over two doses and we will keep trying right until the last minute," he vowed - though forced to admit that some Team GB members may miss events due to positive cases, after two Ugandan athletes tested positive despite landing in the Far East fully vaccinated.
"I'd be a little naive if I said there weren't going to be [positive cases]. We've got to plan that there will be cases," Anson conceded.
"Part of our contingency plan is that we anticipate that. And when there are cases, we manage them properly.
"A big element of that is getting everyone vaccinated because when an athlete tests positive, being vaccinated gives you a chance to get out of any quarantine environment earlier than if you are not vaccinated."
🗣️Team GB’s Chief Executive Andy Anson on today’s postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.Full statement from Team GB, @ParalympicsGB and @uk_sport ➡️ https://t.co/r5hkidxhcDpic.twitter.com/eWTAO083U2— Team GB (@TeamGB) March 24, 2020
"There are individuals who didn't want to be vaccinated and we are trying to convince them it is the right thing to do," Anson admitted.
"It is not mandatory, people have the right to choose and we have to respect that, but it's not necessarily that helpful."
On the 18,000 capacity athlete's village, Anson claimed it could "probably the toughest environment in sports at this time".
"Eleven thousand athletes basically sharing one dining hall, that's the challenge.
"So we are putting in place very strict protocols along with [the organisers] to make sure, to the fullest extent possible, we follow the rules of isolation, distancing, and just keeping in our own 'semi bubbles'."
Another room for two at the Tokyo Olympic Village — with a view over Tokyo Bay. pic.twitter.com/1bNGVth1u8— Stephen Wade (@StephenWadeAP) June 20, 2021
"We will eat together - we won't be mixing in the village like people normally would. So that's the tough bit. But we're confident that we've got enough people around from a medical perspective to make sure that environment is as safe as it possibly can be," he stated.
Yet despite tough measures, Anson believes athletes will still be able to enjoy themselves in the competition doing what they love.
"One of the messages that came to us very early on from the athletes was, 'please don't make this the Covid Games for us. We want to see this as the Olympic Games. It's our chance to shine'," he said.
"So we as an organization are obsessing about the impact of Covid. We're trying to take all of that weight off the athletes' shoulders so they can go out there and compete and enjoy it without worrying about all this other stuff. So I think they can be fun.
"There are some sad things - the fact the athletes have to leave the village within two days of competing and then come home means they won't be able to watch their fellow athletes."
Tokyo Olympic Village. Sunday tour photo op. Lots of buildings, concrete, few trees. Beware Tokyo’s hot, humid summers. pic.twitter.com/59rcZN9EHb— Stephen Wade (@StephenWadeAP) June 21, 2021
"Friends and family were the one group we were trying to push back on to see if they would be allowed in the country. But the Japanese government, rightly, probably, took the decision there were no international visitors.
"So that is a shame, but we will make it as positive an environment as possible," he vowed.
Yet even without foreign fans, Anson is "absolutely convinced" that permitting 100,000 local supporters is "the right thing to do".Also on rt.com New poll finds over 80% of disgruntled Japanese population oppose Tokyo Olympics this summer
"There's nothing bigger and better than the Olympics for uniting the whole world. Yes, it's going to be tough, and different," Anson conceded.
"[But] it's got the chance to lift the whole country and actually the world, and it could be an amazing experience."
That being said, opposition towards the Games is still widespread across the Japanese population, who wish to see them delayed once more or canceled altogether.