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Dick Pound: Olympic athletes should be first in line for COVID-19 vaccine

The Canadian IOC member said this is "the most realistic way" to ensure the Tokyo Games can go ahead this summer

Photo by: Twitter/Saudi24N

In a recent interview with British media outlet Sky News, longtime member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and former Canadian Olympian Dick Pound said he thinks Olympic athletes should be given priority when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. While he admits there would be some people who oppose this decision, Pound says this is the “most realistic way” for the Tokyo Olympics — which were already postponed due to the pandemic — to go ahead in July. 

At the start of the pandemic, Pound made headlines when he expressed doubts that the Tokyo Olympics could be held as originally planned in July 2020, even though the overriding message from the IOC was that the Games were not in danger of being cancelled or postponed. Now, Pound is making headlines once again, this time saying why he believes the Olympics can go ahead as planned. 

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“In Canada, where we might have 300 or 400 hundred athletes — to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level — I don’t think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that,” he told Sky News. “It’s a decision for each country to make, and there will be people saying they are jumping the queue but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead.”

Dick Pound is the longest-serving member of the IOC

Pound isn’t alone in this thinking, as the British Olympic Association (BOA) has reportedly looked into accessing the COVID-19 vaccine for British athletes ahead of the summer. Even so, BOA chief executive Andy Anson noted that he doesn’t expect athletes to cut in line ahead of vulnerable populations.

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“They won’t get priority access now because I think everyone — athletes included — would agree that the priority is the people who need it most; the frontline workers, the elderly, those with health issues and that’s the first wave of vaccination,” Anson said. “There will come a time, hopefully in late spring [or] summer ahead of the Olympic Games, when the athletes can be vaccinated.”