SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea on Thursday began injecting high-speed COVID-19 vaccines into athletes, coaches and others expected to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
The Korean Olympic Sports Committee says the first group of about 100 people received the first doses at Seoul State Hospital at the start of the country’s primary immunization program for its Olympic delegation. Their second shots will be fired in the coming weeks.
A total of 930 athletes, coaches, officials and other support staff will be vaccinated ahead of the July 23 Games in Tokyo. Athletes can be vaccinated if they have already qualified for the Olympics or are in a qualifying tournament, so some may be vaccinated but do not participate in the Games.
The Ministry of Sports said in a statement this week that it supported the South Korean athletes preparing for the Olympics and hoped that their vaccinations would help them achieve “safe, successful participation in the Games”.
It says that athletes և coaches will all receive the Pfizer vaccine. Officials, support staff and journalists under the age of 30 will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, but children under the age of 30 should receive the Pfizer vaccine under the National Vaccination Program, the statement said.
South Korea’s initial goal is to send about 800-900 people to the Olympics, 350 of whom are athletes and coaches in 27 competitions. Olympic Committee officials expect the Olympic delegation to finish by the end of June, when all the qualifying tournaments are over.
The Ministry of Sports said that in the hope of participating in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, about 150 athletes and coaches will receive separate viral attacks on Friday, May 4.
There are also 150 athletes who are still in the qualifying round. Park noted that South Korea sent about 160 athletes, coaches and others to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Later on Thursday, South Korean health officials said they had vaccinated about 3 million people, about 5.7 percent of its 52 million population. The government recently announced that it has provided adequate vaccines for 99 million people, almost twice the total population seeking aspirations for the herd in November.
South Korea has avoided outbreaks, such as in India, the United States and elsewhere, but has recently experienced a steady stream of new infections. There were 121,351 deaths in the country on Thursday morning, with 1,825 deaths.
Meanwhile, rival North Korea said this month that it would not participate in the Tokyo Games, citing concerns about the virus. This is the first time the country has missed a major international sporting event due to an infectious disease. North Korea maintains the world’s toughest anti-virus measures, although it has repeatedly claimed that it has no coronavirus, a claim that is disputed by foreign experts.
This story has been corrected to show that North Korea has said it will not participate in the Tokyo Games this month, not last month.
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