Tokyo 2020 countdown clock in Tokyo, Japan
The Tokyo Olympics was due to start on 24 July 2020 but was postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic

The Chinese Olympic Committee has offered Covid vaccine doses for those competing at the summer Games and at the 2022 winter Games in Beijing.

The news was delivered by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, who on Wednesday reiterated that the delayed Tokyo 2020 will start on 23 July.

“The IOC will pay for these additional doses of vaccines for the Olympic and Paralympic team,” he added.

The Winter Olympics start in February.

Bach added: “For each of these doses, the IOC will pay for two doses more which can be made available to the population in the respective countries.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Hirshland, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee chief executive, said Team USA athletes could be vaccinated before their respective trials because of the pace of the rollout in the country.

“The broad base of athletes may have access to the vaccine sooner than we thought initially possible,” she said.

“This is great news and we’re feeling really positive about the progress we’re seeing here in the United States, both in its advantage to US athletes as well as international athletes living and training in our country right now.”

Spectator decision to be made before torch relay

Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto said on Thursday that no decision had been made on whether to allow foreign spectators to watch the Games in Japan.

It comes after reports this weekexternal-link stating fans from overseas would not be allowed to attend due to continuing concerns about the pandemic.

Hashimoto added that a decision would be made before the start of the Olympic torch relay on 25 March.

‘It coincides with calls for a political boycott’

Alex Capstick, BBC sports news reporter

China has been pushing its vaccines to an increasing number of nations across the world. In this context, the offer to immunise athletes ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics could be seen as PR stunt. It also coincides with mounting calls for a political boycott of next year’s winter Games in Beijing over China’s treatment of the Uighurs which has been described as “genocide”.

But it will be welcomed, especially in the developing world where in many cases vaccination programmes are in the very early stages.

The IOC has made clear its preference for as many participants as possible to arrive in Tokyo having received both jabs, while saying it’s not mandatory and governments are not being asked to change rollout protocols. Even so, elite sportsmen and women are jumping the queue in countries like Hungary, Lithuania and Mexico.

In contrast national Olympic committees in Britain, the USA and Germany have said athletes must wait in line and take their turn. It has triggered a moral and ethical debate as to whether young, healthy individuals should be prioritised in order to help with the delivery of a successful Olympics.

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