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-The Herald

ZIMBABWE Olympic Committee president Thabani Gonye has said they will be engaging with athletes and encouraging them to be vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The Games have been rescheduled for July 23 to August 8.

Zimbabwe has so far qualified three slots – one in rowing and two in swimming.

Gonye, who is also the chef de mission for the Games, said they need to start engaging athletes with a view of encouraging the athletes to be vaccinated.

At the moment vaccines are not compulsory. But it is encouraged that athletes also go through that programme.

“We have also been talking with the SG (secretary general), I think in my role as CDM that we need to also start talking to the athletes, encouraging them to be vaccinated. I will also be going through that programme. “So where we need to go through is, one vaccines are not forced, they are not compulsory at this stage. But we encourage athletes through the national strategy and the national vaccination programme to take part in that programme,”

said Gonye.

The Chinese and the Russian Olympic Committees have availed vaccines through the International Olympic Committee and Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA).

“We have also gotten support from the Russian Olympic Committee, they are also supporting that programme, we also have the national programme, we also have the IOC that have committed to also support that vaccination programme. “So we have all these being availed to us, those opportunities for us to go through that programme. So we will make it open and we are going to talk to those that need to go through the programme. But we encourage people to do so,”

said Gonye.

The International Olympic Committee have indicated that vaccination is not compulsory but encouraged National Olympic Committees to work with their governments to ensure they also take part in national vaccination programmes.

“I think in January or towards the end of January the IOC made it very clear to the NOCs, it’s something that I have also been speaking to the national federations in my role as a CDM for Tokyo 2020, where the IOC did indicate that it encourages the national associations and NOCs to work with their governments towards a programme that will ensure that we also partake in that national programme. “It does not force or compel anybody to get vaccinated. That is the position of IOC, which we are also taking as basically the guideline,”

said Gonye.

The National Olympic Committee is still hoping for more athletes to qualify for the Games.

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