TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis does not believe TT’s qualified and potential Olympians should receive priority access to covid19 vaccines ahead of health care workers and the elderly population.
Lewis was speaking after a news conference held at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Switzerland, on Monday, after a reporter asked if athletes should be prioritised in any way, with less than six months to go until the Tokyo Olympics.
WHO Health Emergencies Programme executive director Michael Ryan said the organisation obviously wishes everyone could be vaccinated. However, at this juncture, the focus must be on the populations most at risk.
Lewis commented, “A couple weeks ago, I would have affirmed that the TTOC’s position in regard to vaccines is that we will not be seeking for priority access for team TTO athletes. We believe that the most vulnerable sections of society and health care workers must be first in line.”
The Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) president also that he was approached aboutpossibly writing to the Government to ask for priority access, but refused.
“I would have communicated clearly that the TTOC was not going to be part of any request for priority access for team TTO athletes and officials.”
Dr Ryan said the WHO will continue to provide advice to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese (host nation) authorities. However, it believes the final decision on covid19 countermeasures and whether the games should go ahead at all rests with the Olympic organisers.
Lewis said, “The IOC have been in regular contact with the NOCs. Up to last Friday, there was a consultation. It’s been a number of weeks now that the TTOC has focused on logistics and all aspects and areas related to the incredibly challenging situation as it surrounds the Tokyo Games.”
IOC president Thomas Bach also thinks the first doses should be reserved for health care workers, and other vulnerable groups.
Bach also said vaccinations will not be a precondition in order to attend or compete in the games, while at the same time urging athletes to take vaccines if they are made available.
A report in USA Today on Monday said some within the Olympic community, including longtime IOC member Dick Pound, believe mass vaccination of Olympic athletes should be an option.
In an interview with Sky News earlier this month, Pound called it “the most realistic way of going ahead.”
But the article said, “Public health experts generally disagree. They argue that any effort to vaccinate Olympic athletes – who are generally young and healthy – would be ethically dubious if other at-risk portions of the global population are still awaiting their doses.”