The City of Houston has stepped up to support the Olympic movement, ensuring Pan American athletes have the opportunity to be vaccinated prior to the Tokyo Games this July. In partnership with the United State Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority, the City of Houston announced today plans to work with Panam Sports to ensure their accredited athletes, delegates, and officials can get vaccinated before heading to Toyko for the Games. Panam Sports is the international organization that represents the 41 National Olympic Committees of the Americas.
“We are happy to partner with our colleagues at Panam Sports and great friends in Houston to make vaccinations available to as many Tokyo-bound Panam athletes and officials as possible,” said Susanne Lyons, USOPC chair. “The commitment of the Olympic and Paralympic movements to honor the health of the athletes, delegations members and people of Japan – and to move opportunities like this one in Houston from idea to reality very quickly – is a testament to the power of this global community. We wish all a healthy and successful Tokyo Games.”
Athletes and delegation members could begin arriving as early as the first week of June and will continue through mid-July, using one of Houston’s two international airports. Some may decide to stay for training, and others will leave for Tokyo directly from Houston. Athletes, delegates, and officials already qualified or accredited for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the Cali 2021 Junior Pan American Games will be eligible. Their airfare will be paid for by Panam Sports.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is supplying the vaccine doses that will be distributed to the athletes with help from the City of Houston.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best tool there is to save lives during the pandemic. The City of Houston is proud to team up with Panam Sports and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee to provide vaccinations to athletes, delegates and officials. We are honored to participate in the process and support these champions as they prepare to compete in the Olympics and Junior Pan American Games,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
HOUSTON, TX TO SERVE AS VACCINE SITE FOR PAN AMERICAN OLYMPIANS
The goal is to allow as many athletes as possible the opportunity to receive their vaccination before the Olympics and Junior Pan American Games. Depending on how many athletes decide to travel for their vaccine, Houston could be looking at giving Johnson & Johnson vaccines to as many as 2,500 delegates.
“Houston has done an amazing job of distributing vaccines, and with two international airports, it only made sense when asked if we could help, that we would try to find a way,” said Janis Burke, CEO of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority. “Some of these elite athletes haven’t been able to gain access to vaccinations in their own countries. In order to reduce their risk and help ease the minds of all involved, we wanted to assist our neighboring countries where needed. What a shame it would be for an athlete that has worked their entire life for the shot of participating in the Olympics, only to get this far and not be able to attend in Tokyo. After all, the Spirit of Olympism is to provide friendship and fair play through sport, and we know that the world could use more of these elements right now.”
About the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority
The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority maintains the facilities and services the debt of the world-class, professional sports venues it was created to build. To support this primary mission, Houston Sports serves as a leading proponent for attracting sporting events to Houston and for promoting the city as a home for sports- related activities to ultimately enhance Houston’s economic development and bring a better quality of life for its residents. Houston Sports also created the annual Houston Sports Awards to honor the area’s outstanding athletes. www.HoustonSports.org