China Is Offering COVID Vaccines to All Olympic Athletes Competing in Tokyo and Beijing Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Chinese Olympic Committee have struck a deal to offer COVID-19 vaccines to all athletes competing in the upcoming Tokyo and Beijing Games.

The collaboration between the two organizations was announced on Thursday during a virtual meeting by IOC President Thomas Bach, according to multiple outlets.

"The IOC has received a kind offer from the Chinese Olympic Committee, hosts of the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics, to make additional vaccine doses available to participants in both editions of the Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022," Bach said, according to the Associated Press.

The Tokyo Olympics, postponed from last summer due to the ongoing pandemic, are currently scheduled to take place from July 23 through Aug. 8, 2021. Meanwhile, the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing are slated to open on February 4 and end on February 20, 2022.

Bach also reportedly said that additional doses will be given to the general public in countries participating in the program. "The IOC will pay for two doses more, which can be made available for the population in the respective country according to their needs," Bach said, according to Reuters.

While the Tokyo Games are all but certain to take place this summer, numerous strict safety and health protocols are being put into place to keep all parties involved safe.

Japanese outlet Mainichi reported Wednesday that Olympic officials are moving toward a decision about spectators, namely fans traveling overseas.

Unspecified sources, according to the newspaper, were "involved in the discussions," and officials will make a final decision "within the month." Mainichi also quoted a "source close to the government" as saying, "In the current situation, it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators."

The IOC confirmed to PEOPLE that the decision on international spectators will be made before the end of the month.

Last month, the IOC published the first of its official Tokyo 2020 Playbooks that outline rules and regulations that will be put into place at the Games — including a ban on physical touch.

Under the new rules, athletes and officials must wear a face mask "at all times" unless they are sleeping, eating, or at least six feet away from others while outside. Physical contact, such as hugs, handshakes, and high-fives, should also be avoided, the playbook states.

In addition, athletes and officials will not be able to use public transportation without permission. Athletes are also barred from visiting venues as spectators.

Spectators are encouraged to support the competing athletes by "clapping and not singing or chanting" from the stands, the rules state. The number of spectators being allowed at the Games is yet to be determined.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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