Japanese Olympic athletes start getting vaccines

Japanese athletes and staff set to take part in the Tokyo Olympics have begun receiving coronavirus vaccines.

Teams taking part in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are getting vaccines for free, from Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies.

The Japanese Olympic Committee has designated about 1,600 athletes who are on or are likely to be on the national squad, their coaches and staff members as eligible for the shots.

The inoculations began on Tuesday at the National Training Center in Tokyo so as not to impact the vaccine rollout for the elderly currently underway in Japan. The jabs are administered mostly by the team doctor for each sport.

About 200 athletes and staff from six sports received shots on the first day. The JOC plans to complete the vaccination drive by around July 20.

Athletes who have already been vaccinated for competition overseas are excluded from the program.

The JOC says Japanese athletes who are based abroad and do not live in Japan likely won't get a jab as part of this program.

The head of the Japanese delegation, Fukui Tsuyoshi, stressed that vaccination of athletes must not affect that of the general public. He sought public understanding, saying the vaccination drive is aimed at protecting Japanese society by mitigating the risk of infection.

Vaccination of Paralympic athletes is set to begin later this month.