The Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, John Joshua-Akanji, has stated that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines which got into the country last week is going to be mandatory for any athlete that wishes to take part at the National Sports Festival in Benin City and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, The PUNCH reports.
He made this information known to news men on Monday, March 8, 2021.
Nigeria got about four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility last week.
Last week’s delivery was the first batch of the supposed 16 million doses of vaccines expected to be delivered to the country in the coming weeks.
The first doses, these first set were administered at the National Hospital, Abuja on Friday, with the nationwide rollout expected to start on March 12.
Joshua-Akanji noted that athletes, who will be competing at the NSF and the Olympics, will be given top priority.
“The minister has discussed with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on this issue and he has stated that priority will be given to athletes who will take part at the Olympics and the National Sports Festival.
“There will be no compromise on that. It’s a standard practice; every athlete must take the vaccine because it is meant to prevent them from the virus. It is going to be mandatory.”
However, there are concerns involving the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines within some Nigerian athletes.
Sprinter Ogho-Oghene Egwero, who was at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games to represent Nigeria, said he was expecting a statement from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, stating he was still contemplating whether to take the vaccine or not.
“Let Nigeria stand for their athletes. Our federation (AFN) should call us to inform us about the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. We will adhere to whatever they tell us, but for now I’m still weighing the options to know if I will take it before the Olympics,”
A Paralympic athlete Ibrahim Oseni said:
“COVID-19 is the major reason why the NSF has suffered several postponements. Majority are skeptical about taking the vaccine even when the President was vaccinated in public with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19.
“We don’t know the viability of the vaccines, but I want to be convinced that these vaccines are safe.”
A board member of the AFN, Sunday Adeleye said:
“It is serious matter. The sports ministry is to provide these vaccines for its athletes not the federation.”
When quizzed about the AFN organizing a seminar to enlighten its athletes,
” The ministry will take care of that.”