US athletes hoping to compete in the Winter Olympics next year will need to be double jabbed.
Team USA athletes will only be able to compete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics if they’ve received their Covid-19 vaccinations.
It represents a U-turn from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), who had no vaccine mandate in place for athletes at the Summer Games in Tokyo.
However, the authority has now altered its stance, announcing on Wednesday that any athletes and staff hoping to travel to China will have to have received their jabs by December 1.
“This step will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff, and allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and optimal service to athletes,” the organisation said.
Cases for athletes requesting an exemption will be treated on an individual basis.
The Beijing Games start on February 4, with the US set to send around 240 athletes. However, other leading nations are adopting a less belligerent approach.
Norway, the most successful country in Winter Olympic history, have confirmed they won’t be making the vaccine mandatory for athletes looking to compete.
“We are not going to compel athletes to get vaccinated,” said Finn Aagaard of Norwegian Sports Federation and the Olympic and Paralympic Committee (NIF).
“Vaccines are freely available in Norway and it is our experience that there is a very high uptake among athletes, but we do not have insight into every individual’s status.”
Furthermore, Sweden and Finland are not expected to demand vaccination among athletes while Germany are reportedly waiting for the release of the Beijing 2022 ‘playbook’ in October.
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Only last week, the International Olympic Committee stated they will have tight COVID-19 countermeasures in place in Beijing, to ensure the safety of all participants.
Just over a month after the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games, IOC President Thomas Bach said in an open letter that next year’s Winter Games would also require strict measures amid the ongoing pandemic.
“While the pandemic is far from over, I would like to reassure you that together with our Chinese partners and friends, we are sparing no effort to make these Olympic Winter Games safe and secure for everyone,” Bach said.
Overall, 26 venues will host the different events during the Games and in February this year, Beijing announced that those venues would be running on entirely renewable energy.