Brazil begins mass vaccination of Olympians to Tokyo

Olympics – Brazilian athletes and staff traveling to Tokyo for the Olympics receive COVID-19 vaccine – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – May 14, 2021, Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha, Larissa de Oliveira, Marcos Vinicius D’Almeida and Michel Pessanha pose after receiving the vaccine against the coronavirus disease Pfizer-BioNTech (COVID-19) REUTERS / Pilar Olivares

RIO DE JANEIRO Brazil on Friday launched a mass vaccination program for athletes, coaches, staff and journalists heading to the Tokyo Olympics in July.

Doctors in six Brazilian cities vaccinated the first groups of 1,800 people, including Olympians and Paralympians.

“I feel like it gives me security,” said one of those who received the Pfizer vaccine, archer Marcus Vinícius D’Almeida.

“I have been barred from participating in some countries, so now I feel like I can complete my pre-Olympic routine for the past three months without worrying about getting sick.”

Brazil has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 428,000 dead to date, a number higher than in any country except the United States.

Many countries have halted their flights from Brazil due to the high number of positive cases there. More than 1,000 people still die from the virus in South America’s most populous country.

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