BRUSSELS (AFP) – Around 225 Belgian athletes wanting to participate in this summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be given Covid-19 vaccines in the coming days, health authorities in Belgium announced on Monday (April 19).

The athletes concerned are primarily those who have not yet qualified to take part in the Games, postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only a handful of athletes, from sports such as athletics and cycling, have attained qualification, according to a Belgian Olympic Committee spokesman.

“In order to give Belgian athletes who wish to take part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games every chance of qualifying, the inter-ministerial public health board (CIM) has accepted to vaccinate them in the coming days,” read an official statement.

To date, almost 25 per cent of Belgians over the age of 18 have received a first dose and 7.7 per cent the second.

The Belgian Olympic Committee played down any suggestion of vaccine queue-jumping in the country of 11.5 million, which has seen almost 24,000 Covid-related deaths.

“Given the small number of athletes (225) implicated in this decision, the impact on the general vaccination campaign will be practically non-existent,” it argued.

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