Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
FOLLOWING the arrival of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines on Monday, the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, says they will assess the vaccination programme first before getting local athletes vaccinated.
International Olympic Committee have indicated that they will work with Zimbabwe, and other national Olympic committees in assisting and encouraging athletes and officials to get vaccinated ahead of the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Games were postponed to July this year following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year. Coventry recently told The Herald that they respect the priority list of the Covid-19 vaccination roll out programme.
“The IOC are advocating for vaccines to athletes but they have made it very clear that they will not be mandatory and that athletes shouldn’t jump the queue ahead of anyone else.
“His Excellency President Mnangagwa announced last week, as I am sure you saw it in the newspapers, that the first responders and a whole list of people would be given the first option and then we will just have to see where we are in terms of that,” said Coventry.
Following discussions by IOC president, Thomas Bach, on Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 with National Olympic Committees, Zimbabwe and other countries are expected to actively engage with their respective governments about the vaccination situation.
They are expected to report back to the international body this month.
Bach held consultation calls with the National Olympic Committees as the Olympic Movement enter the final stretch in the preparations for the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, and the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
“The IOC is also continuing to consult with the World Health Organisation to make every effort towards staging safe and secure Games.
“In that respect, the IOC and its partners have been developing a toolbox of Covid-19 countermeasures, which includes immigration procedures, quarantine measures, testing, personal protective equipment, contact tracing, and also vaccinations.
“Vaccines are one of many tools available in the toolbox, to be used at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.
“The IOC continues to strongly support the priority of vaccinating vulnerable groups, nurses, medical doctors, and everyone who is keeping our societies safe.
“When vaccination is made available to a broader public, the IOC calls for Olympic and Paralympic teams to be vaccinated given their role as ambassadors of their NOCs and given the role of sport “to promote safe sport as a contributor to the health and well-being of individuals and communities,” Bach was quoted as saying.