The fate of the Olympic Games this year has been shrouded in the uncertainty of a rising pandemic and a global vaccine chase. President Thomas Bach of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said he was optimistic that an effective vaccine would enable the Games to begin safely, three weeks before the first vaccine doses were publicly available in the United Kingdom last November. Fast-forward to January 2021 and organizers may not be able to rely on the rollout of vaccines in the way they would have expected, as the rollout process has been hindered by distribution impediments, especially across Europe.

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 several 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.” A point of the debate may be where Olympic participants rank on the priority list for a vaccine. Among athletes, the general opinion is that they are prepared to wait.