Irish Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be vaccinated against Covid-19 before the Toyko Games.
The news follows talks between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and Pfizer Biontech.
Pfizer Biontech said in a statement that they would coordinate with national sporting bodies globally to make sure that coronavirus vaccines are available to anyone who needs one before travelling to Japan.
The allocation will be supplementary to any existing delivery agreements between Pfizer and the Irish Government, which through the EU allocation, has increased very significantly in recent weeks.
Olympic Federation of Ireland President, Sarah Keane said, “I would like to thank the IOC and IPC on behalf of Team Ireland for this very significant breakthrough. It provides the athletes and support staff who work so hard to represent us internationally with the appropriate level of care in advance of the Games. Over recent months we have been very conscious of the wider issues around us in society and were working intensely to advocate for vaccination of the team at the appropriate time when those most vulnerable in society had come first.
“This breakthrough is a major relief for all of us given the significant challenges that we were facing and the lack of time remaining to find a resolution. I take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Pfizer BionTech, the IOC and the IPC for helping to make this possible with the support of the Irish Government.”
President of Paralympics Ireland, John Fulham said “Today’s announcement from the IOC in relation to vaccinations for the Paralympic and Olympic Teams travelling to Tokyo is very welcome and our sincere thanks goes out to Pfizer Biontech, the IOC and IPC for the work they have done to make this possible.
"To be able to provide the necessary level of care for our athletes and staff, as they seek to perform at the highest level, has been our primary concern. We have been working tirelessly in seeking the best solutions, conscious of the broader societal pressures at this time, ensuring those most vulnerable took priority.
"We look forward to working with our athletes, support staff, Olympic Colleagues, while being supported by our Government so our Teams can travel to Tokyo and be in the best and safest position to perform on the world stage. That is something for Ireland to look forward to.”
IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement: “This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts. We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine, where and when possible.”