SPORT: Athletes top priority for COVID-19 vaccine – NOC


Secretary-General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Olabanji Oladapo, says Nigerian athletes who have qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will be given special consideration when the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine begins.

The Olympics, which was pushed back by a year due to the outbreak of COVID-19, will begin on July 23, though there are growing concerns it might be canceled again due to the pandemic.Nigeria on Tuesday received the first batch of 3.94m doses of Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from India.

On Monday, Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would be among the first set of Nigerians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while modalities were in place on the distribution of the vaccines.

In sports, there have been mixed reactions on the vaccines, with Jamaican sprint superstar, Johan Blake, insisting he would rather miss the Tokyo Games than be vaccinated. “I don’t want any vaccine, I’d rather miss the Olympics than take the vaccine, I am not taking it, I don’t really want to get into it now, but I have my reasons,” he was quoted as saying in Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner.

But with Nigeria receiving its first set of doses, NOC secretary, Olabanjo, said the committee is doing its best to see that athletes are among the first batch of people to receive the shot as they continue to prepare for the Olympics. “I can say we are cooperating with the ministry and athletes are a priority. The time the vaccines will be given to the athletes depends on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. When it is available, we will get it,” Oladapo told The PUNCH.

Athletes who spoke with our correspondent said accepting the vaccine was a matter of choice.
“Getting the vaccine is a personal issue. If you feel you don’t trust the vaccine, that’s your personal decision. Every athlete has a decision to make. I know some athletes who say they will not take the vaccine, but will wait to see how it reacts on others,” Orukpe Erayokan told The PUNCH.

Tokyo-bound African wrestling champion Blessing Oborodudu said, “If the vaccine is available, and they want athletes to take it, at least, the president of the federation or the secretary will speak to the athletes. The final decision is with the athlete, but at the moment, I really don’t know.”



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