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newtimes - 9 days ago

Why Rwanda was chosen as a vaccination hub for Olympic athletes

Athletes who are not yet able to access vaccination programmes in their respective countries will now be eligible to travel to either Doha (Qatar) or Kigali (Rwanda) to get vaccinated at hubs established in the two countries before they fly to Tokyo, Japan to participate in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The two countries are now home to the hubs established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), together with the national Olympic committees and governments of both Rwanda and Qatar, with the support of Pfizer, to allow participants who will be unable to be vaccinated in their home countries in advance of travelling to Japan for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 to get inoculated. The two hubs will both offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed last month between IOC and vaccine maker, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE to donate doses of the companies’ Covid-19 vaccine to Games participants from national Olympic and Paralympic committees around the world. They have been set up respectively by national Olympic committees from the two countries in relation with the relevant government and medical authorities in their regions and with Pfizer’s support. Concerned NOCs can apply for travel support from Olympic Solidarity should they need it. James Macleod, the IOC NOC Relations and Olympic Solidarity Director thanked both countries and Pfizer for their generosity and great show of willingness and support in the vaccination process of athletes. “The progress in preparation of work on the ground has been outstanding, and these additional vaccination opportunities are enabling the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to be safe and secure not only for the participants, but also for the Japanese people,” said Macleod. The decision by IOC to choose Rwanda as the covid-19 vaccination hub was welcomed by many, including Sports Minister Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju. “Thank you IOC for trusting Rwanda as a vaccination hub for athletes attending the Tokyo 2020. Welcome to Rwanda!” Munyangaju reacted to the IOC development. Having a vaccination hub becomes a huge boost for local athletes who will participate in the Olympic and Paralympic Games as they look forward to being vaccinated from their home countries. IOC Member in Rwanda, Felicite Rwemalika, also hailed IOC’s choice to make Rwanda one of the vaccination hubs for Olympic Games participants. “We were also driven to join this initiative in solidarity with our friends at the Japan Olympic Committee, who have constantly supported our NOC by generously hosting training camps for our athletes,” she said. Meanwhile, the Doha vaccination hub comes in addition to Qatar Olympic Committee’s confirmation that it will also host the Refugee Olympic Team in early July in a training camp in Doha prior to the team travelling to Tokyo. Currently, as many as 75 per cent of the residents of the Olympic Village are already vaccinated or have secured vacci and it is good reason to believe that this figure will be well over 80 per cent at the time of the Games.


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