THE TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) is working towards vaccinating all of its qualified athletes and accredited officials who will participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Several members of TT’s Olympic delegation, particularly foreign-based athletes, have already received the first dose of the vaccine and are awaiting their final shot. Some athletes and locally-based officials, however, are yet to receive their first vaccine.
Those yet to get their jabs are being urged by TTOC president Brian Lewis to capitalise on the covid19 vaccination drives made available by the TT government and a recent offer by the Pan American Sports Organisation (Panam Sports) to have 6,000 of the region’s Olympic-bound athletes and officials vaccinated ahead of the Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not mandated that all delegations must be vaccinated to compete.
“We’re working feverishly to try to get 100 per cent of our delegation vaccinated. I know it’s a bit contentious in people’s minds and, yes, the IOC has said that it’s not mandatory. We abide by that but still continue to encourage athletes to get vaccinated,” said the TTOC president.
Vaccination for Panam Sports’ first 4,000 Johnson & Johnson laboratory (one dose) begins on May 24 at the Consulate General of Mexico in Miami, US. The remaining 2,000 doses will be administered in Houston, on June 1, at the city’s airport.
The IOC and Panam Sports will also reimburse the cost of the airplane ticket (round trip from the country of origin to the US) for athletes and officials seeking vaccination, up to a maximum of U$500 per person.
Lewis confirmed the TTOC accepted the generous offer by Panam Sports but lamented there are some details that must be ironed out before travel to Miami or Houston gets under way.
“The challenge with the Panam Sports option, as we delve deeper into it, is the logistics on it. It will cost roughly about $17,000 per person because the trip would entail a stay of approximately three days in the US.
“When athletes/officials then return to TT, they would also have to quarantine which would be an additional cost. We also recognise that the health system is under a bit of pressure as it is.
“We previously said we would not jump the queue for local vaccines. It’s a delicate issue. We’re still seeing how we could get as much of team TT vaccinated,” he added.
Lewis said that TT’s Olympic delegation should comprise of just over 50 members. To date, he believes there are less than ten people who have not yet receive their first jab. Full vaccination, according to Lewis, also serves as part of assuring the Japanese public that the Games is not going to be a super spreader.
In response to Monday’s statement by the US state department which urged against travel to Japan because of a new wave of covid19 cases, Lewis remains confident in the plans and protocols being implemented by the Japan government, IOC and Tokyo metropolitan government.
Lewis said the assurances given and measures put in place will mitigate the risk and the TTOC is fully prepared to abide by them. He added that the Japanese government continues to roll out mass vaccination programmes in an effort to minimise risk of spread.
Lewis said, “We continue to support the Tokyo 2020 Games and participating on the basis of the assurances that have been put in place and guided by the World Health Organisation, public health experts, countermeasures and plans for testing. We are in support and will participate in the Games.”
Additionally, TTOC remains in close communication with the Japan Embassy in TT regarding the local delegation being hosted by Osaki Town for a ten-day pre-Olympic training camp.
There remain viability and other issues surrounding the camp following the withdrawal of multiple Japanese towns and municipalities who have now reneged on their agreements to welcome foreign pre-Olympic teams.
“The Japanese Embassy in TT has been having on-going meetings with Osaki Town authorities. We’re getting some clarity. The entire exercise, from our perspective, is about risk management.
“Osaki Town may have some concerns and we received an update report which is seeking some clarification. The Japanese Embassy in TT is speaking directly to Osaki officials to get clarification on that,” he said.
To date, Lewis said, the TTOC cannot confirm travel arrangements to Tokyo. This remains a challenge because there are no scheduled flights out of TT as the borders remain closed owing to the pandemic.
Lewis closed, “The government is being as cooperative as they could be.”