• AFP-Jiji


Around 225 Belgian athletes wanting to participate in this summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be given COVID-19 vaccines in the coming days, health authorities in Belgium announced Monday.

The athletes concerned are primarily those who have not yet qualified to take part in the Games, postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only a handful of athletes, from sports such as athletics and cycling, has attained qualification, according to a Belgian Olympic Committee spokesman.

“In order to give Belgian athletes who wish to take part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games every chance of qualifying, the inter-ministerial public health board (CIM) has accepted to vaccinate them in the coming days,” read an official statement.

To date, almost 25% of Belgians over the age of 18 have received a first dose and 7.7% the two.

The Belgian Olympic Committee played down any suggestion of vaccine queue-jumping in the country of 11.5 million which has seen almost 24,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

“Given the small number of athletes (225) implicated in this decision, the impact on the general vaccination campaign will be practically non-existant,” it argued.

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