FILE PHOTO: Track Cycling - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men's B&VI Sprint Medal Ceremony - Anna Meares Velodrome - Gold Coast, Australia - April 7, 2018. Neil Fachie and pilot Matt Rotherham of Scotland celebrate winning a gold medal. REUTERS/Paul Childs
January 13, 2021
(Reuters) – British Paralympian Neil Fachie believes athletes face a moral dilemma over being vaccinated for COVID-19 ahead of high-risk individuals but said he would take the shot if it was offered before this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Senior Olympics official Dick Pound said last week that athletes should be given priority access to the vaccine so the Tokyo Games can go ahead as scheduled from July 23.
More than 15,000 athletes from almost every country are expected to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics and the subsequent Paralympics.
“When that news broke, I was speaking to some of my teammates about it and the moral dilemma,” Fachie, who won a track cycling gold medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“We’re fairly young, fit people who would not be considered high-risk for COVID. And the last thing you want to do is take a vaccine away from someone who needs it far more.
“It’s not a great place to be. Should we get offered the vaccine then I imagine I would take it, but there’s definitely a question mark of am I really deserving or not?”
Canada’s Olympic wrestling champion Erica Wiebe also said that front-line workers and vulnerable people should be prioritised over Olympic athletes.
Her thoughts were echoed by Scottish sprinter Zoey Clark, who is hoping to make her Olympic debut.
“Those most at risk have to be vaccinated first,” Clark said. “That being said, if someone offered me the vaccine I would 100% take it.”
Cycling’s Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar and his UAE Emirates teammates were vaccinated at a training camp in Abu Dhabi last week.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)