Should Olympians Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine?


Currently, the Olympic games have been set to begin on July 23 in Tokyo, Japan. With Covid-19 still prominent in various competing countries, a new debate has begun in regards to Olympians being prioritized in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine during the general public rollout. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is pushing for those competing in the Olympics to be prioritized in receiving the vaccine, while many health officials (including WHO) are pushing against it. Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s director of health emergencies programme gave a statement about the issue, “Right now we are laser-focused on solving our biggest problem which is vaccinating health workers in all countries and allowing people who are vulnerable and dying from this infection to access vaccines.” On the other hand, while still prioritizing vaccines for the vulnerable groups, nurses, and medical doctors, the IOC wants athletes to first receive the vaccine as soon as it is available to the general public; with the head of the IOC, Dick Pound asking that athletes “skip the queue.” Many on this side are also arguing that the number of Olympians and staff needing to be vaccinated will not be large enough to impact the rollout of the vaccine.


    The WHO not prioritizing Olympians when the vaccine is available to the public is the best course of action for everyone. For the most part, Olympians are in great health, and are young; putting them at very low risk. Most of the general public do not fit these characteristics, and most are more vulnerable to the disease than the Olympians. Amidst this global crisis, we need to first focus on stabilizing Covid-19 in individual countries before we begin sending people off to compete in an international event.