USOPC leaders ‘more optimistic than ever’ athletes will be vaccinated before Tokyo Olympics

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is "more optimistic than ever" that its athletes will have access to COVID-19 vaccines prior to this summer's Tokyo Olympics, USOPC chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland said Wednesday.

Hirshland said on a conference call that the organization hopes athletes will be vaccinated "readily and easily" and "well before" the Games, which are slated to begin July 23. Some athletes, she continued, might even receive their shots before competing in Olympic trials, many of which are scheduled for June.

"We're happy that the vaccine situation here is looking very positive," Hirshland said, "to help ensure that the broad base of athletes might have that access sooner than we initially thought possible."

Hirshland also indicated that the USOPC could play a role in vaccine distribution, though the hope is that athletes will be able to receive shots in their local communities as part of the general population.

President Joe Biden said earlier this month that the U.S. should have enough vaccine doses to innoculate every adult by the end of May.

"We are also exploring opportunities to help support that distribution, to ensure that we know where athletes are, where they'll be," Hirshland said. "And there are trials, opportunities where we'll have large groups of athletes gathering. Ideally, the vaccines are administered well in advance of that. But we are looking at every option because, as you know, the landscape continues to change on a regular basis."

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