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Irish Olympic athletes won't be prioritised for vaccines, says Minister Chambers

As things stand, the rescheduled Tokyo Games will kick off in July.

Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers.
Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRISH OLYMPIC ATHLETES won’t be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Games, says the Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers.

With the rescheduled Games going ahead as planned in July as of now — questions have been raised in recent days — the International Olympic Committee [IOC] has said participants are encouraged to get vaccinated before going to Japan, though it will not be mandatory.

Speaking on OTB AM this morning, Chambers said: “I know there have been different responses to this across different countries.

“There has been a message from the IOC that Olympians should follow the national sequencing as it’s set out by each member state or by each nation themselves.

“We’ve obviously got an age-based sequence now that is transparent and fair, and that’s how we’ve decided to pursue vaccination right now.

“In fairness, certainly that’s what the message from the Olympic Federation has been… [that] the organisations within countries should follow the national sequence.

“I think that’s important so we maintain the integrity around vaccination.”

Denmark, Hungary and Israel have all vaccinated their athletes ahead of the 23 July kick-off in Tokyo, while Germany have spoken out firmly against athletes skipping the queue.

Junior sports minister and Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West Chambers said he didn’t see Irish Olympians being moved up the pecking order in any way, with the Government sticking to the age-based plan for vaccine rollout on these shores.

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“Well, no,” he noted, when pushed for a direct answer.

“At the moment we’ve got sequencing based on age, and I think that’s transparent and fair. Certainly that was reflected by… on our sports management group we’ve got a representative of the athletes themselves and I think they recognise the sensitivity around this.

“We’ve seen other instances with issues with our vaccination in terms of who is prioritised over who. We all agree that age is the single biggest issue when it comes to the impact of Covid.”

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Emma Duffy

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