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Olympic bound team waits for govt directives on Covid-19 vaccination

Olympic bound team waits for govt directives on Covid-19 vaccination

THE Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) is waiting for government’s directive on fate of local athletes, who are required to take the Covid-19 vaccination before being cleared to travel to Tokyo, Japan in July this year for the summer Olympic Games.

All the athletes lined up for the Games globally have to mandatory attend Covid-19 vaccination programme as it was directed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which coordinates and supervises the quadrennial Games.

TOC Secretary General, Filbert Bayi told the ‘Daily News’ that it is mandatory for all athletes to undergo the Coronavirus vaccination programme.

“Since Tanzania is also intending to send athletes for the Games, it has to do so to its athletes,” Bayi said.

Bayi said that IOC, jointly with the World Health Organisation (WHO), all national Olympics Committee bodies from IOC member countries (ANOCA) and the games’ host city, Tokyo have principally agreed to join forces on the fight of Covid-19 and vaccination is part of their effort to stop the spreading of the virus.

Tanzania is yet to endorse the use of Covid-19 vaccination, as the government was still waiting for the recommendations from a Special Committee formed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan on the matter.

President Samia formed a committee of experts that will advise her on the status of Covid-19 in the country and the necessary steps to take.

However, President Samia has insisted Tanzanians to continue observing other prevention protocols, like wearing of masks, washing hands and sanitisation as the committee is still working on its urgent task.

During the Games, Bayi said that the Organising Committee has set several other conditions, among others, avoiding unnecessary gatherings and that all attendees, athletes and other delegates will have to observe all Covid-19 protocols including hand washing and sanitizing.

“The Games are likely to be anti-social this time, it will not be allowed to hug winners even hands shaking of athletes might not be allowed this time,” said the legend.

Bayi said there is a deadline for the vaccination programme but TOC will request to IOC for extension to early next month as his body was still waiting for the government’s consent.

“We wrote to the ministries of Sports and Health on the vaccination mandatory programme and we are waiting for directives regarding this,” said the former 1980 Moscow Olympic Games silver medalist. He said IOC will pay for vaccination for all athletes globally.

Tanzania has traditionally been taking part in the Olympic Games since their inception in 1960s. In this year, the country is expected to field athletes in athletics, as other athletes in swimming have failed their qualification bids.

So far, only two marathoners, Alphonce Simbu and Failuna Matanga have qualified for the Games. Other marathoners, Gabriel Geay and Natalie Sulle are in Italy to take part in qualifying series to be held on SUNDAY (today).

According to Athletics Tanzania (AT) Vice-President John Bayo, the marathoners have had an intensive training with the national team in Arusha.

“They were part of the team that is attending training camp in Arusha,” said Bayo.

Bayo said that both Simbu and Abdi, alongside Augustine Sulle will on May 23 also travel to Vienna, Austria.

For Simbu and Abdi, they will be participating only to test their mettle since they have already qualified while for Sulle, he will be seeking for his qualification bid.

The Olympic Games were earlier planned for last year but were postponed to this year because of Coronavirus pandemic that forced most countries globally to impose travel restrictions.

Since the inception of the Games, Tanzania has managed to win only two silver medals through Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui during the 1980’s edition

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