Canadian Athletes Don’t Want Vaccine Priority

Two Canadian Olympians have rejected suggestions that athletes should be given priority in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Long-time IOC member Dick Pound suggested on Wednesday that athletes should receive the vaccine early on as they prepare for this year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

But Canadian reigning Olympic wrestling gold medallist Erica Wiebe asked herself “would I want to get vaccinated before my mum and dad?”

“They’re actually planning on going to Tokyo with me, and they hope to be vaccinated prior, but they’re in an at-risk population,” she said. “So, if I had the choice, no I wouldn’t want to be prioritized over them.”

She added on social media: “I want to represent Canada in Tokyo. I want to continue to inspire the next generation of young boys and girls. But I need my community to be safe first and that means a measured, risk-based vaccination plan.”

With cases rising fast in Tokyo, Pound suggested that “the most realistic way” the Games could go ahead safely is if athletes are prioritised.

But three-time Olympian and gymnastics champion Kyle Shewfelt also stressed that Canadian athletes are not interested in jumping the queue.

“They’re already healthy, they’re in an age bracket that hasn’t been shown to be super vulnerable to fatal outcomes from this disease,” he said. “From a moral standpoint, it doesn’t sit right [with me].”

While acknowledging that the games are important, Shewfelt could not help but look at the bigger picture.

“Our entire society has been ripped to the core, businesses are closed, people are dying,” he added. “As much as I want the Olympics to move forward — because I love the Olympics — there’s isn’t a doubt in my mind where [vaccines] need to go. The Olympics can still move ahead safely, regardless of whether athletes get vaccinated or not.”

Sports news editor