IOC Makes Surprise Vaccination Deal With China

But Japan says its athletes won't take China's vaccine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 12, 2021 5:04 AM CST
Japan Rejects China's Offer to Vaccinate Olympic Athletes
Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020), speaks during a news conference Thursday, March 11, 2021.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan will not take part in China's offer—accepted by the International Olympic Committee—to provide vaccines for participants in the postponed Tokyo Games and next year's Beijing Winter Games. Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Friday that Japan had not been consulted by the IOC about the Chinese vaccines, and that Japanese athletes would not take them, the AP reports. She said the vaccines have not been approved for use in Japan. "We have been taking comprehensive anti-infectious disease measures for the Tokyo Games in order to allow participation without vaccinations," Marukawa said. "There is no change to our principle of not making vaccinations a prerequisite."

Announced by IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday, the surprise deal comes as China faces mounting international pressure over the internment of at least 1 million Muslim Uyghurs, which has been labeled a genocide by several governments and human-rights bodies. Marukawa pointed out that the Olympics are being held as if vaccines are not available, relying on testing, masks, social distancing and keeping athletes in a "bubble." Distribution of China's vaccine will be through international agencies or existing vaccine agreements countries have with China, Bach said. China, where COVID-19 first emerged in late 2019, has actively engaged in vaccine diplomacy, using doses developed by Sinovac and Sinopharm. Trials have produced generally lower levels of efficacy than vaccines produced outside China.

(Read more Olympics stories.)

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