A woman walks past the Olympic rings in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

A woman walks past the Olympic rings in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

IOC and China make COVID-19 vaccine deal for Tokyo, Beijing Olympians

Partnership will allow the committees to buy, provide vaccines for people taking part in the games

China strengthened its relationship with the International Olympic Committee on Thursday by offering to pay for vaccines for athletes as criticism of the 2022 Winter Games host country continues.

The IOC entered into a partnership with the Chinese Olympic committee to buy and provide vaccines for people taking part in the upcoming games in both Tokyo and Beijing.

“We are grateful for this offer, which is in the true Olympic spirit of solidarity,” IOC president Thomas Bach said during an online meeting that included sports leaders and the organizing committees of future Olympics.

Bach said the IOC would “pay for extra doses” for Olympic and Paralympic participants. The Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23, and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing are scheduled for February.

The agreement is a reputational win for China when its own Olympics have been severely criticized.

Activists have tried to brand it the “Genocide Games” because of China’s detention of its Uyghur people in prison camps. Pro-democracy campaigners have also linked the Olympics to protests about Hong Kong and Tibet.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he believes genocide is being committed against ethnic minorities in china’s Xinjiang province.

The IOC and Bach have typically deflected questions about China’s record on human rights and said the Olympic body could influence only projects directly related to staging the games.

A 45-minute update on Beijing’s hosting Thursday focused only on praise and the logistics of organizing sports events.

READ MORE: Canadian wrestler hopes Olympic committee, China’s vaccine plan can benefit international community

“It’s a very on-track delivery of these games in a very successful way,” said Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., an IOC vice-president and the chairman of the body’s panel overseeing preparations for Beijing.

Chinese innovation to develop vaccines and help secure the health of the Tokyo Games has also drawn attention to its regional rival’s relatively slow vaccination rollout. Vaccination in Japan began in February with health workers prioritized.

“At the moment, vaccines are being inoculated to health care workers and from April elderly (people’s) vaccination will begin,” Tokyo Olympic chief executive Toshiro Muto said through an interpreter.

Bach said the agreement with China would help fulfil promises to Olympic organizers and competitors that the games in Tokyo will be staged safely.

He said the project was “our demonstration of solidarity with the Japanese people for whom we have such high respect and whom we hold in such high regard.”

Heading off longstanding concerns that athletes might jump the line to get vaccinated, Bach said extra doses for the general public will be given to countries taking part in the program.

“The IOC will pay for two doses more, which can be made available for the population in the respective country according to their needs,” Bach said.

Distribution will be through international agencies or existing vaccine agreements countries have with China, Bach said.

China, where the COVID-19 outbreak emerged in late 2019, has actively engaged in vaccine diplomacy, using doses developed by Sinovac and Sinopharm.

Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley mom irked at irresponsible people getting vaccinated ahead of front-liners

Government decision to vaccinate people in Whistler not sitting well with some

Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley City mayor urges people to stick to health order rules

Stay strong and support local businesses, says van den Broek

A classic Porsche Speedster replica caught fire on a Langley road around 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Darren Carlson/Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Porsche replica car catches fire on Langley road

Township firefighters responded to the incident on Saturday evening

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives. (Photo: flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Local agency given more bucks to combat anti-racism

Langley Community Services one of 36 organizations given added funds

Langley Township council passed a tree protection bylaw in 2019, but one resident says the municipality does not do enough to preserve valuable trees. (Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley Township fails to protect enough trees, writer says

Resident said community should not cut trees then find man-made solutions to mitigate climate impact

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read