No mandatory coronavirus vaccination for Tokyo Olympics, says IOC chief as protestors call for Games to be scrapped

Bach, who is in Japan to bolster confidence in the pandemic-postponed event, said taking a vaccine would be a 'free decision'

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Athletes won't be required to take a coronavirus vaccine to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, IOC chief Thomas Bach said on Tuesday, adding that mandatory shots would be "going too far".

Bach, who is in Tokyo to bolster confidence in the pandemic-postponed event, said taking a vaccine would be a "free decision" for athletes and others involved in the Games.

"There are too many issues to consider. This is a question of private health," the International Olympic Committee president said, during a tour of the Olympic Village.

"It is a question also of [the] health conditions of each and every person. It's a question of availability."

However, the IOC will "appeal" to athletes and others to be vaccinated, Bach added, calling it a "sign of respect" for other competitors and the Japanese hosts.

Tokyo 2020 was put back by a year to start next July because of the coronavirus, becoming the first Olympics to be rescheduled in peacetime.

Bach and Japanese organisers have sounded a confident note that the event will go ahead – buoyed by recent positive vaccine trials and a successful international gymnastics event in Tokyo this month.

Bach said the organising committee would take "all the necessary precautionary measures, so that athletes can relax and feel safe".

On Monday, he said the IOC would look to help athletes secure shots if they are available and approved.

Bach's tour of the National Stadium, the main site for next year's Olympics, came against a backdrop of protestors demanding the cancellation of next year's Games over fears that large numbers of visitors to the Japanese capital could cause a massive spike in Covid-19 cases.