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Pfizer, BioNTech to donate vaccines to Olympic athletes

The 2020 Summer Games, which were postponed for one year due to COVID-19, are scheduled to start July 24 in Tokyo. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
The 2020 Summer Games, which were postponed for one year due to COVID-19, are scheduled to start July 24 in Tokyo. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- Pfizer and German partner BioNTech will donate doses of their COVID-19 vaccine for athletes and delegations in this Summer's Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the International Olympic Committee said Thursday.

National Olympic committees will work with respective local governments to coordinate the distribution of the vaccines. First doses are expected to be delivered at the end of May. The Summer Games start July 23.

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"Based on the feedback from the National Olympic Committees and National Paralympic Committees, it is expected that a significant proportion of Games participants will have been vaccinated before arriving in Japan," the IOC said in a news release.

The opening ceremony for Tokyo 2020 was planned for July 24, 2020. The games were postponed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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"This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts," IOC president Thomas Bach said in a news release.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently met to discuss the vaccination plan. The Japanese government then met with the IOC to finalize it.

"With hundreds of millions of vaccines already administered, and hundreds of millions more to go, Pfizer is committed, together with BioNTech, to doing all we can to help end this pandemic and help return the world to a sense of normalcy," Bourla said in the same release.

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Bourla said more than 430 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been delivered around the world.

The IOC announced in March that China agreed to provide COVID-19 vaccines for any participant who requires one at the Summer Games or the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. The IOC said it will buy and distribute the Chinese vaccines.

Olympic torch relay underway in Japan

Torchbearer Shingo Suetsugu, a Japanese sprinter, runs the flame during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay at Nino-maru parking lot of Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto, Japan, on May 6. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
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