International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said the organization has agreed to purchase China’s COVID-19 vaccine to administer to willing participants at the Tokyo Olympics this summer and the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.
However, Japan’s athletes won’t be taking the China-made vaccines after the country’s Olympic committee said Japan wasn’t consulted regarding the IOC’s decision. The vaccine isn’t approved for use in Japan.
The IOC has said it will pay for Chinese vaccines for the teams participating in the Olympic Games but didn’t offer details about the cost or quantity. Bach also said that distribution of China’s vaccine will be through international agencies or existing agreements that countries have with China, according to The Associated Press.
About 11,000 athletes are expected to participate in the Summer Olympics, in addition to coaches, media, volunteers, and officials. Bach said that the Chinese Olympic Committee had promised it would provide as many vaccines as needed.
China made the vaccine offer to the IOC amid international calls to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics in light of the regime’s genocidal campaign against Uyghurs and other minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. Alongside the United States designating the persecution of Uyghurs by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as genocide, more than 100 international human rights organizations and many politicians in Western countries have called on countries around the world to boycott the Beijing Games.
China has been actively pushing efforts of vaccine diplomacy using doses made by Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm. A government spokesman said this month during the regime’s annual “two sessions” national government meetings that China has already provided COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries.
However, critics say the CCP is attempting to whitewash its secrecy at the start of the pandemic that led to the worldwide spread of the virus.
Recently, European Council President Charles Michel accused China of running “highly limited but widely publicized” vaccine programs worldwide “for propaganda purposes.”
“China practices ‘vaccine diplomacy’ primarily to strengthen its soft power and gain wider support from less well-off countries unable to secure vaccine from any of the leading approved Western vaccine producers in the coming months,” professor Steven Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said in an interview with UK media.
Dr. Chung Kim-wah, deputy CEO of Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, said in an interview with Voice of America that Beijing hoped to be the first to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in order to shift negative perceptions toward the CCP after it allowed for the virus to spread around the world.
No Western countries will approve the Sinovac vaccine for use, since it hasn’t completed phase three testing, Chung added.
According to media reports, three people recently died in Hong Kong after receiving a Sinovac vaccine, and another three people were rushed to the emergency room.
Michel also pointed out that the rate of China’s own vaccinations is twice below that of EU countries.
The apparent low willingness of Chinese people to be vaccinated has caused concern in the international community. According to the figures disclosed by Chinese experts during the “two sessions” meeting, the vaccination rate in China is 3.8 percent, which is much lower than the United States, Israel, and other countries.
Chinese nationals have witnessed numerous vaccine and counterfeit drug scandals in recent years. That may be contributing to the reluctance to get vaccinated, due to skepticism about the safety and efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines.
IOC Vice President John Coates said on March 12 that the organization isn’t requiring athletes to be vaccinated, but does encourage it.