On Thursday, South Korea began the process of prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccine to athletes, coaches and other companions of the delegation going to the Tokyo Olympics.
The South Korean Olympic Committee reported that the first group of 100 people received the first doses of the vaccine at a government hospital in Seoul. They will receive a second dose in the next few weeks.
A total of 930 athletes, coaches, leaders and other staff will be vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo Games, which open on July 23. Athletes may be vaccinated if they are already certain of the classification or will participate in qualifying tournaments, so some may be vaccinated without going to duels.
The Sports Ministry stated this week that vaccinating athletes would allow them to compete “safely and successfully”.
Athletes and coaches will receive a Pfizer vaccine. Leaders, staff and press envoys over the age of 30 will be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but those under the age of 30 will receive Pfizer, according to the National Vaccination Campaign, according to the ministry statement.
South Korea is expected to send a delegation of 800-900 people to Tokyo, 350 of whom are athletes and coaches in 27 disciplines. The South Korean Olympic Committee expects to complete the delegation in mid-June after completing all the qualifying tournaments.
The Sports Ministry added that 150 athletes and coaches competing in the Tokyo Paralympics will receive their vaccinations separately between Friday and May 4.
Also Thursday, South Korea’s health authorities said they had vaccinated about 3 million people, about 5.7% of its population of 52 million.
The government recently confirmed it has 99 million vaccines, twice its population, and hopes to achieve herd immunity in November.
South Korea avoided the waves of the Coronavirus that struck India, the United States and Brazil, but recently witnessed a gradual increase in new infections. The country at dawn Thursday recorded 12,351 cases and 1,825 deaths.
Its rival North Korea announced in early April that it would not go to the Tokyo Games due to the epidemic. It was the first country to abandon a major international competition for COVID-19.
North Korea is one of the countries that have strict measures against the virus. They confirmed that they had no cases of coronavirus, a confirmation that experts have questioned.
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