WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will vaccinate its Olympic athletes and national soccer team against COVID-19, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday, as the nation eyes medals with just 100 days to go until the Tokyo Games.
Prioritising athletes for vaccination has proved controversial in some countries, especially those that have experienced problems with their vaccination programmes. This month Japan denied it was prioritising its athletes after a media report suggesting this was the case sparked public outcry.
"To ensure the comfort of our athletes who are to give us joy and hope in Tokyo, we decided to vaccinate the entire Olympic team... and also our national soccer team, which will represent Poland during the European Championship," Morawieck told a news conference.
The biggest country in the European Union's eastern wing is hoping to win gold in events such as hammer throwing and volleyball at the Games, which face a deluge of challenges and growing uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world.
Culture Minister Piotr Glinski said 1,077 Olympians and trainers would get shots, as well as over 60 people connected to the national soccer team, which is due to face Slovakia in their first match of the European Championships on June 14.
In common with other European Union countries, Poland's vaccination programme has been hampered by problems with deliveries. The system was plunged into confusion earlier this month after a sudden change in vaccine eligibility.
To date, over 2.1 million people in Poland, which has a total population of 38 million, have received both shots of COVID-19 vaccine.
Poland has reported 2,599,850 cases of the coronavirus and 59,126 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Its health system has been badly stretched by a third wave of infections.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Gareth Jones)