The International Olympic Committee announced Thursday that Pfizer and its German affiliate BioNTech would donate doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to athletes and delegations competing in this summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
National Olympic commissions will collaborate with local councils to organise vaccine delivery. The first doses are scheduled to arrive at the end of May. The Summer Games begin on July 23.
“Based on the feedback from the National Olympic Committees and National Paralympic Committees, it is expected that a significant proportion of Games participants will have been vaccinated before arriving in Japan,” the IOC said in a news release.
The Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony was scheduled for July 24, 2020. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the games were cancelled for a year.
“This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a news release.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla recently met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to discuss the vaccine programme. The Japanese government then negotiated with the International Olympic Committee to finalise the agreement.
“With hundreds of millions of vaccines already administered, and hundreds of millions more to go, Pfizer is committed, together with BioNTech, to doing all we can to help end this pandemic and help return the world to a sense of normalcy,” Bourla said in the same press release.
According to Bourla, more than 430 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been distributed worldwide.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared in March that China had agreed to offer COVID-19 vaccines to any athlete who needed one at the Summer Games or the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. The IOC stated that it would purchase and administer Chinese vaccines.