Team Japan won’t take Chinese vaccines, Tokyo Olympics minister says

A healthcare worker receives a Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi, India, Jan. 16, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Japanese athletes at the Summer Olympics will not be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations offered by China since Japan has not approved the vaccines, Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa said on Friday.

The Chinese Olympic Committee offered vaccine doses for participants in this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had said on Thursday.

IOC President Thomas Bach’s announcement during an online session took organisers of the Tokyo Games, such as Chief Executive Toshiro Muto, by surprise.

Muto declined comment on the offer at a Thursday briefing after the session.

On Friday, Marukawa said there was no change in Tokyo organisers’ plans for a safe Games, regardless of whether participants had been vaccinated.

“I think that will be a decision for countries where (Chinese vaccines) have been approved,” Marukawa told a regular news conference when asked if athletes should receive the vaccinations offered by China.

“I am not aware if any Chinese companies have applied for approval of Chinese vaccines in our country,” she said, indicating that Japanese athletes would not be eligible.

“We are taking comprehensive anti-infection measures including activity management and testing so that people feel secure about participating in the Tokyo Games, even without a vaccination.

“There is no chance that we are proceeding on the assumption of people not getting vaccinations.”

The Tokyo Olympics are set to run from July 23 to Aug. 8, and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

The dates were fixed after the Games were postponed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.(Reuters/)

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