The fate of this year’s Olympic Games has been shrouded in mystery between a surging pandemic and a global search for vaccines. Three weeks before the first vaccine doses became publicly available in the United Kingdom last November, President Thomas Bach of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said he was hopeful that a successful vaccine would allow the Games to continue safely. Fast-forward to January 2021 and organizers might not be able to rely on the rollout of vaccines in the way they would have hoped, as distribution delays, especially across Europe, have impeded the rollout process.

Jason Kindrachuk, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Manitoba in Canada, says: “I think a lot of people had this vested belief that once the vaccine started to roll out, that would spell the end of Covid and what we would see is that transmission rates would start to plummet, things would get more controlled and we would have some ability to go back to a more normal lifestyle,” “The fact is that even with good vaccine rollouts in a number of regions of the world, we’re having trouble getting a hold on transmission.” IOC President Thomas Bach also said organizers will “undertake a great effort” to ensure that “Olympic participants and visitors will arrive (in Tokyo) vaccinated,” while also denying suggestions that vaccines will be mandatory for athletes. A point of controversy is likely to be where Olympic participants rank on the priority list for a vaccine. The general opinion amongst athletes is that they are prepared to wait.