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PARIS, April 14 (Reuters) - The French Olympic committee (CNOSF) is confident that all French athletes can be vaccinated against COVID-19 before this year’s Tokyo Olympics, its president said on Wednesday.
“The time has come that we allow the athletes who go to Tokyo to be vaccinated in a timely manner,” Denis Masseglia told Reuters at an event marking 100 days to go until the Games.
“The end of April, beginning of May would be the right time. I am optimistic that the athletes will be vaccinated.”
France is however not expecting to open vaccination to under-50s before mid-June.
Masseglia explained that the athletes should “pass” ahead of others, only once vaccination is open to the whole population.
France have so far administered just over 11 million shots, hoping to reach the 30-million mark by mid-June.
“We’re almost about to open vaccination to everyone. There is no reason that the athletes going to Tokyo, maybe 500-600, cannot be vaccinated (in due time),” said Masseglia.
A delegation of up to 1,000 people will travel to Tokyo, where the Games will be held from July 23-Aug. 8.
The CNOSF said it encourages athletes to get vaccinated, although they have not made it mandatory.
On Wednesday, Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the country would vaccinate its Olympic athletes and national soccer team against COVID-19.
Prioritising athletes for vaccination has proved controversial in some countries, especially those that have experienced problems with their vaccination programmes.
“We know that it is very important that in the next month, month and a half, a decision can be made regarding the athletes and that a vaccination plan can be implemented,” said French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who will discuss the topic with Health ministry officials and the CNOSF on Friday.
“The athletes must be able to arrive in good health and in full confidence with regard to COVID-19. It is very difficult to test positive before an event. The more we can prevent this from happening, the better.
“We are working on it. I hope they can be vaccinated.” (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)