• Kyodo

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The government is considering giving COVID-19 booster shots to the country’s athletes and officials ahead of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics amid a global surge in coronavirus infections as the omicron variant becomes rampant, according to sources familiar with the plan.

As the number of infection cases with omicron has risen rapidly in Japan, a growing chorus within the government is calling for booster shots for Japanese athletes and others who will travel to participate in the global sporting event, the sources said.

The opening of the Winter Games is coming in less than a month, a timeline ahead of the general population’s eligibility for boosters according to Japan’s vaccine rollout. In consideration of the timing, the government is believed to be discussing who should receive such shots and how to administer them, the sources said, adding that it is also eyeing how to deal with those currently staying overseas.

Japan started giving COVID-19 booster shots to medical workers in December, with elderly people at nursery facilities becoming eligible later in the month.

Athletes and officials participating in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics last year received vaccinations free of charge.

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics is scheduled for Feb. 4.

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