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Professor says upcoming Olympics will be ‘very different’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Australia’s athletes will be given priority for the COVID-19 jab ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Australia's athletes will be given priority for the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

This is in an effort to protect them from a COVID-19 emergency gripping Japan when the games take place from July 23.

The Australian Olympic Committee said athletes "can now breathe easy knowing they have the jab" but controversy surrounds the decision for the Olympics to be held at all.

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Bill Bowtell

Strategic Health Policy Consultant Professor Bill Bowtell said the Olympics, however they take place in Tokyo, "are not be going to like Rio or London or Sydney".

"It will be very different, it will be in a bubble," Mr Bowtell told Today.

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The professor said with three months to go, questions remained over whether countries like India could attend the games at all.

"There are a lot of questions about whether the Olympics should go ahead, before you get to the question whether Australian athletes should jump the queue over vulnerable people to still need to be vaccinated, the frontline care workers and so on," he said.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Nick Coatsworth said he thought it would be safe for Australian athletes to attend the games.

"I acknowledge the number of cases in Japan at the moment," Dr Coatsworth told Today.

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Infectious diseases expert Dr Nick Coatsworth

"But as always, it's a risk-benefit analysis. We've learned so much about how we can protect ourselves from COVID.

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"They will have the added protection of the vaccine, on top of the usual measures (such as mask-wearing and social distancing)."

Mr Coatsworth said he supported the idea of athletes returning 48 hours after their event to hotel quarantine in Australia.

"All these measures are designed to protect the athletes and also protect our Australian community when they come home," he said.

Mr Coatsworth said he "strongly encouraged" every athlete in the Olympic team to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I think provided we take the appropriate quarantine measures, the Australian communities are not going to be at risk at all," he said.

"It's the athletes that I'm worried about.

"As an infectious disease physician, with an elite athlete competing at top level, at 123 per cent, when they've got COVID-19. I think that would be a substantive risk to someone's health".

Source: 9News

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