Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, and its German affiliate BioNTech announced an agreement with the International Olympic Committee on Thursday to offer vaccines to competitors and workers at the Tokyo Olympics.
In a statement, the firms said they would coordinate with national sporting bodies to make sure that coronavirus vaccines are available to anyone who needs one before traveling to Japan.
The agreement was welcomed by IOC president Thomas Bach, who has already seen the Tokyo Games postponed from last year because of the pandemic.
The IOC president said “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”
Over 11,000 athletes are expected to be at the game which will run from July 23 to August 8, but many have already secured vaccines in their home countries.
The IOC has already said it will offer national delegations COVID-19 vaccines bought from China.
Japan has already decided to ban spectators from abroad and the president of the organising committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said last Friday that the Olympics could be held behind closed doors for the first time in their history.
With Japan’s hospital system already under intense pressure, Tokyo 2020 has been criticised for asking Japanese medical staff to work on the event, and Hashimoto said the absence of spectators could ease the pressure.
The firms noted that it would be a decision of individual countries’ government whether to permit or require the vaccines to be used, but added that the jab has been authorised by the EU, US, UK, Canada and other countries.