Thu, 24 Jun 2021

BRASILIA, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The Brazilian government said Tuesday it would inoculate the country's Olympic and Paralympic athletes using COVID-19 vaccines donated by China's Sinovac and US firm Pfizer.

Around 1,800 Brazilians participating in the Tokyo Games - including coaches, medical staff, officials and journalists - will receive their first doses in the coming days, according to officials.

The Brazilian Olympic Committee reported that all accredited people accompanying the delegations will also be immunized, including journalists, officials and various technicians, such as those who collect anti-doping tests.

Some 8,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac and 4,050 doses of the U.S.-made Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be applied.

"We are going to vaccinate our Olympians ... to ensure that they can perform very well at the Tokyo Olympics and bring back medals," health minister Marcelo Queiroga told a news conference.

"We have enough doses to immunize our athletes and continue to strengthen the National Vaccination Plan," Queiroga said.

"It is a global trend. Today 16 countries have already begun to vaccinate their athletes," he added.

He added the decision to vaccinate the athletes was made by President Jair Bolsonaro and heeded the advice of health experts.

The doses will be administered in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte.

The Tokyo Olympics will run from July 23 to August 8, having been postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 200 Brazilian athletes have already qualified for the Games and the figure could reach 250 or 300, according to the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

The Ministry of Defense is helping with the logistics of distributing the vaccines and setting up vaccination centers.

Brazil's government has distributed more than 77.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states and the Federal District of Brasilia since the start of the vaccination campaign on January 18, and more than 47.3 million Brazilians have been vaccinated to date.

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