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New Zealand have started to vaccinate Olympic athletes

Phil Egan
Phil Egan

09:50 14 Apr 2021

New Zealand is already vaccinating athletes heading to the Olympics, which get underway in Tokyo in 100 days.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in March that vaccination for COVID-19 will not be a requirement for athletes but several countries still intend to vaccinate.

NZ Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith confirmed on Wednesday that the first athletes had received their jabs.

"We’re really satisfied the government was able to put us in that category of national significance, so that’s now underway and athletes have been worked through according to when they might be departing," Smith told reporters in Auckland.

"Some are still qualifying and some still have events and activities to prepare, so over the next few months we will see that gradually rolling out."

New Zealand has been praised for its handling of the pandemic after eliminating coronavirus in the community by shutting its border in March 2020.

Meanwhile, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is waiting to find out when its athletes will receive the vaccine.

Australia is set to send almost 500 athletes to Toyko this summer and the AOC is confident all athletes, staff and officials will all be vaccinated before they leave for Japan.

Australia - like many countries - is experiencing a slow rollout of the jab.

"We're in discussion with Minister (Greg) Hunt's office on a weekly basis," AOC chief executive Matt Carroll told reporters.

"We weren't expecting athletes or officials to be vaccinated at this time, so we're not frustrated.

"Crunch time starts to hit next month because athletes will start to go overseas. The government is well aware of that.

"I could have clarity tomorrow. The governments - federal and state - have a lot on their plate at the moment.

"We're working with the government as to how their programs roll out, where they will classify athletes and officials. We're quite confident."

The Tokyo Olympics will take place between July 23rd and August 8th.

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