PUTRAJAYA, Feb 26 — A total of 264 athletes and officials who will be representing Malaysia in international competitions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July are expected to get their COVID-19 vaccine jabs beginning April, said Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.
He said this would be the first batch of some 4,000 athletes and officials listed by the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) to be given priority for inoculation under the first phase of the National COVID-19 National Immunisation Programme.
He said all these 264 individuals should get their second dose by May to give them the confidence to return to international competitions.
“We hope that by May, these 264 will be successfully vaccinated, meaning they would have gone through the cycle of two doses when July arrives, placing them in a position to compete and be free from COVID-19,” he added.
He told reporters this after witnessing the signing of a partnership agreement between Techninier Sdn Bhd and Impact Integrated at Menara KBS here today.
Reezal Merican said although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had not made vaccination mandatory for those participating in the Tokyo Olympics, inoculation could improve their safety and health.
“We just facilitate the vaccination exercise and there are procedures like filling up forms to be observed, but as mentioned in the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, inoculation is free and taken on a voluntary basis, not compulsory.
“I am confident that all athletes would opt for vaccination as it can make them far safer,” he added.
Last week, KBS confirmed that the list of 4,000 athletes and officials on priority to get vaccination had been sent to Coordinating Minister for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin received his first shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to kick off the immunisation programme.
The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to Aug 8.