Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
12 May 2021
2:27 pm

Sascoc: Vaccines urgently required for Olympic team

Wesley Botton

"We need time to ensure the athletes don't suffer any adverse effects from the vaccine," said Sascoc president Barry Hendricks.

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks has welcomed the news that South Africa's athletes are being vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo Games. Picture: Gallo Images

While government is still in the process of selecting a vaccine for the national team, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Barry Hendricks says a decision is required urgently ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Sascoc confirmed last month it had been offered the Sinovac and Sinopham vaccines from the Chinese Olympic Committee, which would be made available to all South African athletes through the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with no cost to the national body.

They had also been offered the Sputnik V vaccine, which was being supplied by the Russian Olympic Committee through the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa.

Another company working with the IOC, global pharmaceutical Pfizer, had since made vaccines available for the whole SA contingent, including officials and managers.

ALSO READ: Sascoc will ensure Olympic athletes are vaccinated

“We’re working with the Department of Sport, which in turn is liaising with the Department of Health, and we’ve put all these proposals on the table,” Hendricks said.

“They will speak to experts and advise us on the way forward, so we’re waiting for their reply.”

While it had been confirmed that participants would not be forced to be vaccinated in order to compete at the Olympics, which was postponed by one year due the the pandemic, athletes and officials would have to undergo Covid-19 tests before and after their arrival in Tokyo.

“We need to vaccinate athletes as a matter of urgency,” Hendricks said.

“We need time to ensure they don’t suffer any adverse effects from the vaccine.

“We also want to try and vaccinate our Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls who are still trying to qualify overseas.”

In Tokyo, the SA squad (which could include as many as 330 individuals) would be monitored using an app.

The first group of South African athletes would depart for Tokyo on 13 July – 10 days before the opening ceremony – as part of a staggered travel schedule.

All participants would need to leave the athletes’ village within two days of the completion of their events.