Japan will vaccinate its Olympic athletes from June 1, as the country continues to prepare for the Games despite threatening doubts whether it can be held. The vaccines will include about 600 athletes and 1,000 staff members who will be in close contact with them, such as coaches, Japanese Olympic Committee officials said at a briefing in Tokyo on Wednesday. The doses will be administered on a voluntary basis at the Japanese National Training Center. While Japan’s vaccination program currently covers 65 or older, as well as medical workers, athletes participating in the Games can be vaccinated under a donation agreement reached between the International Olympic Committee and Pfizer and BioNTech SE to give doses to athletes.
The agreement, reached earlier this month, was the latest in a series of moves aimed at easing fears surrounding the Games, which intensified on Tuesday after the US said Americans should avoid traveling to Japan in the middle of of the recent increase in business. The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23. Tamayo Marukawa, the minister in charge of the Olympic Games, said on Tuesday that Japan would receive about 20,000 doses of vaccinations, which would also be given to those who work at the games, such as interpreters and referees. Although Japan has been criticized for launching its vaccination campaign late, the pace has increased over the past few weeks, and the country has vaccinated about 400,000 people a day. To date, almost 10 million doses have been administered.