BOA To Institute Mandatory Vaccines for All Accredited Games Participants
The Board of Directors of The Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) has deliberated and given the recent restrictions and challenges faced in attending regional and international competitions, has decided to implement a mandatory Covid-19 vaccine policy as a condition of participation in Games for all accredited persons. Exempted from this policy are Government Officials and persons exempted for medical or religious reasons. The policy, therefore, requires all accredited participants to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and the BOA will be guided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as to the definition of a fully vaccinated person as determined from time to time.
Reasons for the Decision
Several factors were considered in making the decision. Firstly, participation in some Games requires Team Barbados to transit through the US, which has legislated that all foreign travellers entering the US must be fully vaccinated. In addition, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee recently made vaccines mandatory for participation in all Games and the use of their training centres, etc. The Canadian Olympic Committee too has made vaccines mandatory for participation in Beijing 2022. While vaccines are not required for Beijing 2022, unvaccinated participants must quarantine for 21 days. At the recently concluded Junior Panam Games 2021
In Cali Colombia, all delegations were required to be fully vaccinated. For information, vaccines are not currently mandatory for the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022, and based on the current policy for these Games, there will be no additional screening of unvaccinated participants. Therefore, Team Barbados will, as was the case for Tokyo 2020, participate alongside vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
Secondly, the policy is part of a strategy to mitigate the risks associated with taking a team to various Games. Another integral part of this strategy is securing insurance for the Team against injury, death, loss, and damage while participating in Games. From 2021 the BOA secured additional cover in the form of Covid insurance at a substantial cost. The BOA assumes full responsibility for Team Barbados and could incur additional charges, over and above the insurance, if a team member tests positive.
Finally, the emergence of multiple variants of Covid-19 suggests that everyone involved in Sport will be required to adapt to the new norm of living with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future.
Board Commitment and Policy
Most sports require Athletes to abandon established Covid-19 protocols such as the wearing of masks while competing, and in some cases, to be in very close physical contact in enclosed spaces. The Board’s view is that while being vaccinated does not guarantee that a person will not become infected with the virus, available evidence suggests that vaccinations provide an additional layer of protection, and unvaccinated individuals may suffer more severe symptoms if infected. The BOA is committed to creating a safe environment as far as possible for Team Barbados when travelling and competing overseas and believes a fully vaccinated team will contribute to this.
The policy will take effect from January 1, 2022, giving potential participants ample opportunity to comply.