Jakarta, Feb 27, 2021 (ANTARA) - The Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed for a year
owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, will now be hosted by Japan from July 23
to August 8 this year.
Around 200 nations and 10 thousand athletes are expected to converge in Japan for the Games amidst the prolonged pandemic.
The Japanese government has confirmed that COVID-19 vaccination will not be mandatory for Olympic participants as there are sufficient protocols in place.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier said that while vaccination will not be compulsory for athletes participating in the Games, it is encouraging them to get vaccine shots in their countries, if they are available.
Several neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are preparing to inoculate Olympic athletes.
A total of 264 athletes and officials, who will be representing Malaysia in international competitions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July this year, are expected to get their COVID-19 vaccine jabs beginning April, 2021, Bernama reported.
In Jakarta, at least 820 athletes, coaches, and support staff from 40 branches of sports have been administered the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the first phase of the immunization program, which is targeting at least 5,000 athletes, at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on February 26, 2021.
Athletes who were the first to get vaccine shots included those scheduled to compete in national and international sports events, including the Tokyo Olympics, SEA Games, the All England Open, as well as the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Cup football match scheduled in March this year.
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin and Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali witnessed the launch of the vaccination campaign for prioritized athletes.
"Today's vaccines take precedence for those who are in the national training team or those who are preparing for tournament activities in the near future, such as preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and the SEA Games," the minister informed.
The athletes receiving the first vaccine shots belonged to different branches of sports such as badminton, football, weightlifting, athletics, swimming, basketball, bicycle racing, besides the National Paralympic Committee (NPC).
The vaccine is expected to provide protection to athletes and coaches, and increase their self-confidence in the current pandemic situation.
The government is targeting around five thousand athletes, sport officials, and support personnel in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program for sportsmen.
Vaccinations for athletes living outside Jakarta will be coordinated with the Ministry of Health and local health offices
“Later, we will also expand to our athletes in 34 provinces who are currently preparing for the National Sports Week (PON)," Zainudin said.
The PON, which was scheduled to be held last year and had to be postponed due to the pandemic, will be organized in Papua province from October 2-13, 2021.
Meanwhile, Vice President Amin said he is optimistic that athletes participating in the inaugural vaccination campaign are physically strong and healthy, so they can inspire other people to get vaccinated.
"The vaccination of athletes is important. It is also a priority, especially for those, who will take part in several events, both domestic and global. Hence, we have to prepare them, so that they are physically fit and do not miss the competitions owing to being exposed to COVID-19," he stated while witnessing the inaugural vaccination campaign for athletes.
The Indonesian government has rolled out the nationwide vaccination campaign since January 13, 2021, with President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) receiving the first jab of the vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac.
The vaccination program aims to inoculate 181.5 million people to attain herd immunity in Indonesia.
President Widodo has asked the Health Ministry to complete the vaccination program in Indonesia within a year from January 13, 2021.
A total of 1,363,138 Indonesians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of February 24, 2021, with 825,650 people receiving their second vaccine dose, too, the Health Ministry stated.
The 1,363,138 Indonesians chiefly comprise healthcare workers, prioritized under the first phase of the vaccination program, and public service officers, who are being vaccinated under the second phase of the program.
Widodo cautioned that in spite of the vaccination program, the public must continue to adhere to the health protocols of wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands with soap.
The head of state has also issued a new Presidential Regulation (No. 14 of 2021) that makes it compulsory for people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get inoculated.
On February 25, 2021, Widodo witnessed the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to journalists in Jakarta.
During the commemoration ceremony of National Press Day at the State Palace on February 9, 2021, the President had pledged to accord priority to the vaccination of journalists.
He had highlighted the need for journalists to receive the COVID-19 shot on account of their regular interactions with people, especially informants, during the course of their duties.
"As I have pledged during the commemoration of National Press Day, we want to prioritize journalists to get vaccinated. Alhamdulillah (thank God), the vaccination of 5,500 journalists has begun and run smoothly. We hope (the vaccination) will protect journalists, who frequently interact with the public and informants (from being exposed to the coronavirus)," he stated. (INE)