COSL remains hopeful of vaccination of athletes

Less than 100 days before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, there are still many projects for the Luxembourg selection. Heinz Thews, Technical Director at the Olympic Committee, looks at the challenges ahead.

Less than 100 days before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, there are still many projects for the Luxembourg selection. Heinz Thews, Technical Director at the Olympic Committee, looks at the challenges ahead.

(ASdN with Kevin Zender) – Only three months until the start of the Tokyo Olympics. Postponed for a year, the event will be held “as planned”, crosses fingers John Coates, head of the coordination commission of the International Olympic Committee. But before the opening ceremony on July 23, many questions remain to be clarified. And some obstacles to overcome, in particular for the Luxembourg Olympic and Sports Committee (COSL).

Ein Schild „Forbidden to the public“ - Zutritt verboten - hängt an einem Absperrgitter vor dem Fussballplatz in Feulen / Sport, 2020 / 26.04.2020 / Sportplaetze während der Corona-Zeit / Sports center, Feulen / Foto: Ben Majerus

Launched in June 2020, the “Restart Sports” support program has since benefited many clubs. It is true that the covid crisis affects and also reduces the number of licensees and spectators, and therefore revenues for the different disciplines.

In the Grand Duchy, preparations have started and many athletes are on the starting line to try to win a place at the summer games. To date, table tennis player Ni Xia Lian, cyclist Christine Majerus, shot putter Bob Bertemes, swimmer Raphaël Stacchiotti, dressage rider Nicolas Wagner will represent the colors of Luxembourg in the Japanese capital.

The fate of the triathlete Stefan Zachaeus is not yet fixed. “He [lui] Still missing a good result so that he too can jump on the Olympic train ”, comments Heinz Thews, technical director of COSL.

But for the 67-year-old man, these games promise to be very special. “It’s hard to make predictions,” he explains. It is difficult to know how many foreign athletes have ended their careers because of the pandemic, but also to know “who has improved or cannot cope with the current conditions”.


After the compulsory tests, the deputies wonder about the establishment of a “vaccination card” for the sportsmen. Especially for those who will be competing in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Teams also have to face new challenges. If previously, athletes were only allowed to enter the Olympic Village five days before their competition, the situation has changed. “Now the plan is to be able to request an exemption for athletes who come from a time zone where there is a difference of more than six hours with Tokyo.” Athletes could then arrive two days earlier. A “very positive” change for Heinz Thews who sees this as extra time to acclimatize.

In terms of departures, however, things are getting more complicated. “Athletes’ accreditation is no longer valid 48 hours after their withdrawal”. The COSL will therefore have to be flexible and responsive in rescheduling the flights of certain athletes.

A preference for Johnson & Johnson

As for the thorny subject of vaccination, Luxembourg athletes will not be able to benefit from a priority injection. In some countries, however, the athletes of the Olympics are preparing to receive the antidote to the virus, as in Poland, New Zealand or the Netherlands. The COSL does not, however, despair that the authorities change their mind.

(FILES) This file photograph taken on April 9, 2021, shows vials of the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center set up at an exhibition hall in Nantes, western France. - The EU is turning more heavily to BioNTech / Pfizer to make up for suspended Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses and for longer-term needs to fight the mutating coronavirus, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said April 14, 2021. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Even if its distribution in Europe has been stopped by the laboratory, the Grand Duchy is continuing its vaccination campaign with the 2,400 doses already delivered. In the absence of a counterorder from the European Medicines Agency.

“We hope that the athletes will be vaccinated at the end of April, the beginning of May,” says Heinz Thews. For the head of the coordination commission, elite athletes belong “to a particularly vulnerable professional group”, he commented, referring to the many trips abroad and to competitions.

As for the vaccine itself, the COSL has already decided. For the committee, it would be “logical” for athletes to be injected with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, requiring – unlike the others – only one dose. In recent weeks, Heinz Thews has made several requests to this effect to various bodies. But for now, no response has been received, he says.


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