Faster, Higher, Stronger… and Healthy

Published on January 7th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Competitive sport is about attaining advantage and then executing. Same for sailing as it is for professional basketball, so when NBA commissioner Adam Silver declared the league will never “jump the line in any form whatsoever” when it comes to its players receiving COVID-19 vaccines, he wasn’t necessarily saying what he was saying.

He wanted his message to convey how the league desires to be a good citizen, not putting itself above others, and how the NBA seeks to use its stage to promote the importance of taking a vaccine. However, pulling back the curtain, Silver is concerned about team’s gaining a competitive advantage.

This was an early complaint with COVID-19 testing. In March 2020, with a testing shortage in the USA, the rate of NBA players being tested far exceeded the rate the general public. Teams were using their wealth to jump the line and secure private testing. Healthy players were a competitive advantage.

So now when Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Richard Pound states that prioritizing athletes for the COVID-19 vaccine would be the “most realistic way” of ensuring the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games take place, that isn’t all he is saying.

Yes, uncertainty remains over whether year’s Olympic and Paralympics in the Japanese capital will go ahead with less than 200 days to go before the event is due to open, but controlling the competitive advantage on an international basis is not possible. Having the Tokyo 2020 athletes jump the line is the only way for the Games to maintain credibility.

The problem, however, is not every country has approved the vaccine.

While the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently being administered in countries such as the UK and the United States, it is awaiting approval in Japan. Pound denied prioritizing athletes for the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure the Games go ahead would cause a public outcry.

“In Canada where we might have 300 or 400 hundred athletes – to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level – I don’t think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that,” Pound told Sky News.

“It’s a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they are jumping the queue but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead.”

And it’s the most realistic way to manage the competitive advantage, and for the Games to avoid an asterisk. Being healthy is needed to fulfill the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius”.

Tokyo Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021

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