TOKYO — Japan’s government has sent a letter in support of the International Olympic Committee’s effort to arrange for vaccines to athletes participating in next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics, sources close to matter said Wednesday.
The letter, under the name of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, was sent to the Gavi public-private global vaccine alliance, headquartered in Geneva, in November, before the British government approved its first vaccine.
Japan is supporting the IOC desire to administer vaccines to athletes and officials from developing nations. On Nov. 16 in Tokyo, IOC President Thomas Bach said in regards to next year’s Olympics he wanted as many participants as possible to get vaccinated.
The IOC appears to be working toward creating a framework with other related organizations to supply vaccines.
Gavi, which promotes global health by providing vaccines to developing nations, is currently working with the World Health Organization among others on the COVAX coronavirus vaccine project.
Japan has contributed funds to this framework, where technologically advanced nations contribute to the creation of vaccines that can be distributed to developing nations.
Bach indicated last month that the IOC was considering shouldering the cost of vaccinating athletes and officials for the games, slated to begin on July 23, 2021.
The IOC president also touched on the issue during a meeting with Suga when they agreed to work closely to prevent the spread of infections and ensure safety at the Tokyo Games.
Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee revealed Friday that the one-year postponement of the Olympics will cost an estimated 294 billion yen ($2.8 billion) extra, a figure that includes 96 billion yen for coronavirus countermeasures.
The Japanese government and the Tokyo Games organizing committee said previously they would not require vaccinations as a condition for Olympic participation, but said last Wednesday they would begin discussions about how to proceed “should vaccines become available.”