PV Sindhu | AFP
Lausanne: Olympians and Paralympians from across the world, including India's two-time Olympic medallist shuttler PV Sindhu, have called on the world leaders to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
In a video produced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), athletes called on world leaders and decision-makers to ensure free and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. The call comes a few weeks before the start of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, which will take place from February 4-20.
Launched by the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday, the video features more than 20 Olympians and Paralympians from all corners of the world.
These include Olympic champions Federica Pellegrini (swimming, Italy) and Seung-min Ryu (table tennis, South Korea), three-time Olympic medallist Pau Gasol (basketball, Spain), two-time Olympic medallist Maja Martyna Wloszczowska (cycling, Poland), and Humphrey Kayange (rugby, Kenya), who are all members of the IOC At'letes' Commission.
Many other Olympic and Paralympic champions are also included: Olympic champions Valerie Adams (athletics, New Zealand), Alistair Brownlee (triathlon, UK), Osea Kolinisau (rugby, Fiji), Gianmarco Tamberi (athletics, Italy), and IOC President Thomas Bach (fencing); Paralympic champions Martina Caironi (athletics, Italy), Ellie Cole (swimming, Australia), Jakub Krako (Alpine skiing, Slovakia), Tatyana McFadden (athletics, Nordic skiing, USA), Jitske Visser (wheelchair basketball, The Netherlands) and Annika Zeyen (cycling, Germany).
Other athletes featured are: Olympic medallists Danka Bartekova (shooting, Slovakia), PV Sindhu (badminton, India) and Luiza Zlotkowska (speed skating, Poland); Olympians Gaby Ahrens (shooting, Namibia), Jonathan Borlée (athletics, Belgium), Uche Eke (gymnastic, Nigeria), Ann-Christin Goliaß (sailing, Germany), Alex Hua Tian (equestrian, China), Niluka Karunaratne (badminton, Sri Lanka), Silvia Mittermüller (snowboarding, Germany), Alexi Pappas (athletics, Greece), Akiko Thomson (swimming, Philippines) and Gabriela Trana (athletics, Costa Rica), the IOC informed in a release.
In their message, the athletes stressed the importance of staying united to continue to fight the pandemic effectively: "As athletes, we can bring the world together through the power of sport. Now, more than ever, we stand united to use that power of sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Movement to help win the battle against COVID because we go faster, we aim higher, we are stronger when we stand together".
They continue: "We have been given a way forward with a safe and effective vaccine that can help save precious lives and protect our friends… and our families. So we call on governments, foundations, philanthropists, health organisations and social businesses to join hands in giving free and equal access to the vaccine for everybody across the world to pledge our collective responsibility to protect those who are the most vulnerable because everyone on this planet has a right to live a healthy life. We are stronger together when we stand in solidarity and care for each other."
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has been joined by world leaders in calling for 70 percent of the populations of all countries to be vaccinated by the start of July 2022, in order to end the acute phase of the pandemic.
This is an effort by the IOC to involve the worlds top sportspersons to motivate the world leaders to ensure that vaccine is available to everyone.