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No plan in place for Bermuda to accept China’s Olympic vaccination offer

No discussions: Brenda Dale, the BOA vice-president (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Bermuda Olympic Association has not held discussions with the Chinese Olympic Committee regarding its offer to supply coronavirus vaccines for participants at the Olympic Games this summer.

During the International Olympic Committee annual session last Thursday, Thomas Bach, the president, revealed it had accepted the Chinese Olympic Committee’s pledge of doses for unvaccinated participants for both the Olympics in Tokyo scheduled for July 23 to August 8 and the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.

“We are grateful for this offer, which is in the true Olympic spirit of solidarity,” Bach told the online meeting. “In this spirit, the IOC will pay for these additional doses of vaccines not only for the Olympic but also for the Paralympic teams.”

He also added that for each dose given to an Olympic participant, the IOC would buy two more for people in that person’s home country.

Despite the pledge, Brenda Dale, the vice-president of the Bermuda Olympic Association and chef de mission for Tokyo 2020, has confirmed no plans are in place for Bermuda’s athletes to receive the vaccination offered by the Chinese Olympic Committee.

“The BOA has worked with the Bermuda Government to ensure access for Bermudian athletes to receive vaccination in Bermuda,” she said. “We have not reached out to China as yet, as we have not received official word.”

Dale also previously revealed that there was no plan to give Bermuda’s Olympic athletes vaccination priority, despite calls from Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the IOC, for competitors to be high up the priority list when it comes to getting vaccinated.

“Obviously, the BOA have no say whatsoever over who has priority to receive the vaccination,” she said in response to Pound’s suggestion. “The Government and health department are the only ones who will determine who will get access to it, and I’d like to think priority will be given to those most in need.

“However, I would encourage our athletes to have the vaccination if they have the opportunity to do so. I think most would consider it anyway, but I would certainly encourage it.

“After all their efforts to qualify for the Olympics, it would be a real shame if they can’t compete because of complications due to the virus.”

The vaccine partnership comes amid growing calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics in protest over China’s treatment of Ughurs — a Turkic ethnic minority group in the far western region of Xinjiang.

Human rights groups and the United Nations have alleged that Uighurs and other Muslim minorities were detained in internment camps and subjected to indoctrination, torture or forced labour.

Those allegations have been repeatedly denied by Chinese officials while China’s foreign ministry has said the calls for a boycott violate the Olympic spirit and are “doomed to fail”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the partnership with the IOC showed China was fulfilling President Xi Jinping’s pledge of making Chinese vaccines a global public good.

Meanwhile, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa confirmed that Japan had not been consulted by the IOC about the Chinese vaccines, and that Japanese athletes would not take them.

"We have been taking comprehensive anti-infectious disease measures for the Tokyo Games in order to allow participation without vaccinations," Marukawa said to the Associated Press. "There is no change to our principle of not making vaccinations a prerequisite."

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Published March 16, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 15, 2021 at 10:58 pm)

No plan in place for Bermuda to accept China’s Olympic vaccination offer

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