New Zealand begins vaccinating its Olympic athletes
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New Zealand begins vaccinating its Olympic athletes

THE OLYMPICS is creeping up on us...

New Zealand is to begin vaccinating its athletes who will be travelling to Tokyo for the Olympics.

The 2020 Olympics was pushed back by 12 months due to Covid-19, and will instead be taking place this summer from 23 July until 8 August.

New Zealand confirmed that it would allow athletes to jump the queue in the country's vaccine rollout to allow them to participate in events of "national significance".

"We're really satisfied the government was able to put us in that category of national significance, so that’s now underway and athletes have been worked through according to when they might be departing," New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said.

"Some are still qualifying and some still have events and activities to prepare, so over the next few months we will see that gradually rolling out."

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New Zealand has been widely praised for its response to the Covid pandemic, as it has seen extremely low case numbers and mortality rates, and it is now enjoying life with a significant sense of normality.

It is unlikely that Irish athletes will be given the same treatment ahead of the Olympics, as we are in a very different situation to that of New Zealand.

Further vaccine setbacks have occurred this week, amid speculation that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may not be distributed at the level it was expected to be, and additional complications with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dozens of Irish athletes have already qualified for the Olympics, including full hockey and sailing teams.