Olympic Federation and Paralympics Ireland welcome vaccine announcement

The Olympic Federation of Ireland and Paralympics Ireland today welcomed the outcome of talks between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Pfizer Biontech which paves the way for the vaccination of Irish Olympic and Paralympic teams at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

6 May 2021, Vaccinations for the accredited Irish Olympic and Paralympic athletes and support teams expecting to travel to Tokyo, which numbers in the low hundreds, will be made available directly by Pfizer Biontech. It will be supplementary to any existing delivery agreements between Pfizer and the Irish Government, which through the EU allocation, has increased very significantly in recent weeks.

The development is extremely welcome given the very high levels of anxiety that a lack of vaccination was causing among the team. A positive diagnosis this close to the Games still has the potential to exclude athletes from competition. During Games time, vaccination will be of crucial importance in providing protection for the team, and minimising, although not removing entirely, the risk of contagion and elimination from competition.

The news also alleviates the major duty of care dilemma that was being faced as a result of sending a team representing the country, into a known area of COVID 19 infection, particularly when many other teams, and the majority of those athletes expected in the Olympic village were expecting to be vaccinated through their own National agreements.

Speaking today, Olympic Federation of Ireland President, Sarah Keane said,

“I would like to thank the IOC and IPC on behalf of Team Ireland for this very significant breakthrough. It provides the athletes and support staff who work so hard to represent us internationally with the appropriate level of care in advance of the Games.

“Over recent months we have been very conscious of the wider issues around us in society and were working intensely to advocate for vaccination of the team at the appropriate time when those most vulnerable in society had come first.

“This breakthrough is a major relief for all of us given the significant challenges that we were facing and the lack of time remaining to find a resolution. I take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Pfizer BionTech, the IOC and the IPC for helping to make this possible with the support of the Irish Government.”

President of Paralympics Ireland, John Fulham said

“Today’s announcement from the IOC in relation to vaccinations for the Paralympic and Olympic Teams travelling to Tokyo is very welcome and our sincere thanks goes out to Pfizer Biontech, the IOC and IPC for the work they have done to make this possible.”

“To be able to provide the necessary level of care for our athletes and staff, as they seek to perform at the highest level, has been our primary concern. We have been working tirelessly in seeking the best solutions, conscious of the broader societal pressures at this time, ensuring those most vulnerable took priority.”

“We look forward to working with our athletes, support staff, Olympic Colleagues, while being supported by our Government so our Teams can travel to Tokyo and be in the best and safest position to perform on the world stage. That is something for Ireland to look forward to.”

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