Over 60 Team Canada members receive COVID-19 vaccination in Ontario ahead of Games

Over 60 Canadian athletes, coaches and support staff bound for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics received COVID-19 vaccination doses in Toronto on Friday.

Among those in attendance were chef de mission of Canada’s Olympic team and three-time gold medallist in rowing Marnie McBean, as well as Team Canada wheelchair rugby player Travis Murao.

The Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario, which hosted the event at the Pan Am Sports Centre in Toronto, said Team Canada members were receiving either their first or second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

CEO Debbie Low said the institute was “very excited” to facilitate the clinic and grateful for the opportunity to get shots into people’s arms.

“Getting Team Canada vaccinated is an important milestone in the health and safety of all involved,” she said. “We look forward to cheering on Team Canada in Tokyo as they compete for gold.” 

The vaccines were part of the Pfizer and BioNTech donation secured by the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.

The Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario said it will run another clinic for Team Canada athletes, coaches and support staff. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The event came on the heels of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) reaffirming its confidence in the safety of the Games and surety that Team Canada athletes and staff will be “fully vaccinated.”

“[We are] confident that the Olympic Games will be staged safely, fully informed by some of the world’s leading science and medical professionals, including the World Health Organization,” read a COC statement to CBC Sports on Friday.

Further, the committee has developed its own protocols aside from the Tokyo 2020 Playbooks to protect Team Canada and the people of Japan.

“These include a drastic reduction in Mission Team size, the elimination of Canada Olympic House, and a node system designed to minimize any unnecessary in-person contact.”

However, concerns continue to be raised from health-care workers and many among the Japanese population about holding the Olympics amidst the pandemic, with public polls and petitions callings for its cancellation.

On Friday, Japan extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas, with just over 50 days to go until the start of the Games.

Catherine Gosselin-Despr├ęs, executive director of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, also told CBC Toronto that the committee has confidence in the playbooks’ guidelines to keep athletes safe.

Most athletes have received their first dose of a vaccine, she said, but a “pretty minimal amount” have received their second. The committee is expecting between 120 and 130 athletes at the Paralympics.

“I would say it’s been more focus on teams who had to travel earlier for qualification or other events that would potentially put them more at risk,” she said of those already fully vaccinated.

The institute will run another clinic on June 4, with more dates to be determined based on demand and vaccine supply.

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