• AFP-Jiji

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The Pan American Sports Organization announced on Tuesday it is offering 4,000 COVID-19 vaccinations to athletes and officials heading to the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

Panam Sports, as the body is known, came to an agreement with the University of Miami and the Mexican Consulate in the same city to provide the vaccines.

“We know that in many of our countries throughout the continent it is very difficult to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Panam Sports president Neven Ilic in a statement published in Chile.

“Therefore, we have made a significant effort to reach this outstanding agreement that will help all of the athletes who have not had the chance to become inoculated.

“Now these athletes have the opportunity to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States, and thus travel with better protection to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.”

Panam Sports, a body that represents the 41 national Olympic committees of the Americas, said athletes’ tickets to Miami would be paid for.

Athletes and officials must receive their vaccines at least 30 days before arriving in Japan for the Games, Panam Sports explained.

Vaccination programs in much of the region have been slow and many countries are badly affected by the pandemic.

The Olympics, which were postponed from last year due to the pandemic, are due to begin on July 23 until August 8, although there is some uncertainty as to whether they will go ahead.

Many Japanese people are against the Games taking place as the country, which has one of the oldest populations in the world, struggles with the pandemic.

Organizers have insisted, though, that the Games will go ahead “in total security” thanks to strict health protocols and the absence of foreign spectators.

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