Sport voices growing louder in vaccine debate

When Cate Campbell floated the idea that Olympic athletes should be given priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine if it kept the embattled Tokyo Games afloat, the reaction was largely predictable, mostly centred on a view of entitled athletes who felt they had a right to saunter to the front the queue.

Aside from the entrenched and, largely, inaccurate stereotype that our Olympic athletes are drowning in millions of dollars (the vast majority do it for love, not money), that wasn’t quite what Campbell was suggesting. An athlete leader, the swimmer said if there was room in the latter waves of the vaccine rollout, then it wasn’t unreasonable that Olympians be granted access to the jab, given what was at stake.

COVID vaccines could be the holy grail for sports trying to operate under the pandemic.Credit:AP

Her comments were made only a few weeks ago and, at the time, they perhaps felt a touch presumptuous. Now, with sports openly approaching governments for fast-tracked vials of the good stuff, they seem decidedly subtle. The debate about where sport lies in the vaccine power rankings is roaring.

Already in the US, the National Hockey League has offered to pay for vaccines for its 750 players, assuming there were doses available for purchase. Closer to home, Cricket Australia has asked whether national players could be vaccinated before the late February tour of South Africa, where new and dangerous strains of the virus are circulating.

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